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^ LA. WHENCE L. LYVCH, author of “Shadowed by Three,” “A Mountain Mystery 
Dangerous Ground,” “ Madeline Payne,” “ Out of a Labyrinth,” “The Diamond Coterie,” etc. 

_ ALEX T - ®?d^rr.t'fc H &"rTS? ICAGO - >&«* 

aa eeeond-eiau mail matter at the Chicago* 111. P. 0. January IS, 1M, 


PROSPECTUS 


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discovery of gold attracted thither the reckless and lawless — 
on board a Slaver— among Australian Bushrangers — on a. 
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- The Lakeside Bldg., CHICAGO* 









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"Yes,” slie cried, wildly, 


“ I know ; you need not say it page 219 . 




r 



THE GREAT DETECTIVE STORY. 


MADELINE PAYNE, 

THE 

Detective’s Daughter. 


BY 

LAWRENCE L. LYNCH, 

(of the secret service.) 

Author of “ Shadowed by Three,” “ The Diamond Coterie,” 
“Out of a Labyrinth,” etc., etc. 

if n 


■ OF CO/VqA> 

CO BRIGHT 

f MAH 151 889 r ' ' 


CHICAGO: 

ALEX. T. LOYD & CO. 



Copyright, 1883, 

DONNELLEY, LOYD A co, 

CHICAGO. 

Copyright, 1883, 

4LEX. T. LOYD A CC. # 

CHICAGO. 

All Right 1 Reserved. 

Copyright, 1884. 

ALEX, T. LOYD <£ CO.. 

CHICAGO. 

All Rights Reserved . 



MS 6 ?** 


5 ? 





“Lucian Davlin was among the arrivals, and at the end of the 
depot platform stood the dainty phaeton of Mrs. John Arthur.” 
page 229 . 

1 



v 


MADELINE PAYNE, 

THE DETECTIVE'S DAUGHTER. 


CHAPTER L 

HAN PROPOSES. 

“IFm ! And you scarcely remember your mother, I suppose ?” 

“No, Lucian; I was such a mere babe when she died, i 
have often wondered what it would bo like to have a mother. 
Auntie Ilagar was always very kind to me, however; so kind, 
in fact, that my step-father, fearing, he said, that I would grow 
up self-willed and disobedient, sent her away, and procured the 
services of the ugly old woman you saw in the garden. Poor 
Auntie Hagar,” sighed the girl, “she was sorely grieved at our 
pirting and, that she might be near me, bought thedittle cot- 
tage in the field yonder.” 

“Oh!” ejaculated the man, more as if he felt that he was ex- 
| peered to say something, than as if really interested in the subject 
i under discussion. “ Ah — er — was— a — was the old lady a prop- 
erty holder, then? Most discharged servants go up and down 
on the earth, seeking what they may devour in another situa- 
tion.” 

“That is the strangest part of the affair, Lucian; she had 


10 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


money. AVhere it came from, I never could guess, nor would 
she ever give me any information on the subject. It was a 
legacy — that was all I was to know, it seemed. 

“I remember,” she continued, musingly, “how very much 
astonished I was to receive, from my. step-father, a lecture on 
this head. He took the ground that my childish curiosity was 
unpardonably rude, and angrily forbade me to ask further 
questions. And I am sure that since that one instance of wonder- 
ful regard for the feelings of Aunt Hagar, he has not deigned 
to consider the comfort and happiness of any, save and always 
himself.” 

* As the girl’s voice took on a tone of scornful sarcasm; as her 
cheeks flushed and her eyes flashed while memory recalled the 
many instances of unfeeling cruelty and neglect, that had 
brought tears to her childish eyes and pain to her lonely heart 
— the eyes of Lucian Havlin became bright with admiration, and 
something more ; something that might have caused her honest 
eyes to wonder and question, if she had but intercepted the 
glance. But her thoughts had taken a backward turn. With- 
out looking up, perceiving by his silence that he had no desire 
to interrupt her, she proceeded, half addressing herself: 

“I used to ask him about my mother, and was always in- 
formed that he ‘didn’t care to converse of dead folks.’ Finally, 
he assured me that he was ‘tired of seeing my sickly, ugly face/ 
and that, as I would have to look after myself when he was 
dead and gone, I must be educated. Therefore, I was sent to 

the dreary Convent school at M . And there I studied hard, 

looking forward to the time when, having learned all they could 
teach me, I might breathe again outside the four stone walls; 
for, by my step-papa’s commands, I was not permitted to roam 
outside the sisters’ domains until my studies should reach an end. 


KAN PROPOSES. 


11 


Then they brought me back, and my polite step-papa called me 
an ‘ educated idiot/ and my good old Ilagar cried over me; and 
T made friends with the birds, and the trees. Ever since, 
al vays avoiding my worthy ancestor-in-law, I have been won- 
dering what it would be like to be happy among true friends, 
in a bright spot somewhere, far away from this place, where 1 
never have been happy for a day at a time, even as a child.” 

“Never, little girl?” The eyes were very reproachful, and 
the man’s hand was held out entreatingly. “Never, darling?” 

She looked up in his face shyly, yet trustfully, and then put- 
ting her hand in his, said: “Never, until I knew you, Lucian; 
and always since, I think, except — ” 

She hesitated, and the color fled out of her face. 

“ Except when I think that the day draws near when you will 
leave me. And when the great world has swallowed you up, 
you will forget the 1 little girl’ you found in the woods, perhaps.” 

A smile flitted across the face of the listener, and he turned 
away for a moment to conceal the lurking devil gleaming out of 
his eyes. Then, flinging away his half finished cigar, he took 
both her hands in his, and looking down into her clear eyes, 
said: 

“Then don’t let me go away from you, beauty. Don’t stay 
here to make dismal meditations among the gloomy trees. 
Don’t pass all the weary Winter with Curmudgeon, who will 
marry you to an old bag of gold. Come with me; come to the 
city and be happy. You shall see all the glories and beauties 
of the gay, bright world. You shall put dull care far behind 
you. You shall be my little Queen of Hearts, to love and care 
for always. Sweetheart, will you come?” 

He was folding her close now, and she nestled in his arms 
with perfect trustfulness, with untold happiness shining in her 


12 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


bright eyes. She was in no haste to answer his eager question, 
and he smiled again; and once more the lurking devil laughed 
out of his eyes. But he held her tenderly to him, in silence for 
a time, and then lifted the blushing face to meet his own. 

“ Look up, Aileen, my own ! Is it to be as I wish ? Will 
you leave this place with me to-morrow night?” 

The girl drew back with a start of surprise. “You — you 
surely are not going to-morrow, Lucian,” and the gentle voice 
i trembled. 

“ I must, little one — have just received a letter calling me 
back to the city. Your sweet face has already kept me here too 
long. But I shall take it back with me, shall I not, love; and 
never lose it more?” 

The girl was silent. She loved him only too well, and yet 
this peremptory wooing and sudden departure struck upon her 
naturally sensitive nerves as something harsh and unpleasant. 
She would not leave behind much love, would be missed by few 
friends, and yet — to leave her home once was to leave it forever, 
and it was home, after all. She looked at the man before her, 
and a something, her good angel -perhaps, seemed, almost against 
herself, to move her to rebel. 

“Why must I go like a runaway, Lucian? I can’t bear to 
bid you go, and yet, if you must, why not leave me for a little 
time? My father will never consent, I well know, but let me 
tell him, and then go openly, after he has had time to become 
familiar with the idea.” 

“ After he has had time to lock you up ! Recollect, you are 
not of age, Aileen. After he has had time to force you into a 
marriage with your broken-backed old lover. After he has had 
time to poison your mind against me ” 

“Lucian I as if he could do that; he, indeed I” The giri 
laughed scornfully* 



“She nestled in his arms with perfect trustfulness.’— page 11. 









14 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


it is not difficult to guess how this affair would have termin- 
ated. The man was handsome and persuasive; the girl trustful, 
loving, and, save for him, so she thought, almost friendless. 

But an unexpected event interrupted the eloquence flowing 
from the lips of Lucian Davlin, and set the mind of the girl 
free to think one moment, unbiassed by the mesmeric power of 
his mind, eye, and touch. 

They were standing in a little grove, near which ran the foot- 
path leading into the village of Bellair. Suddenly, as if he had 
dropped from one of the wide spreading trees, a very fat boy, 
with a shining face and a general air of “knowingness,” appeared 
before them. 

“ I beg pardin, sir,” proclaimed he, “ but as you told me if a 
tellergram come for you, to fetch it here, so I did.” 

And staring at Madeline the while, he produced a yellow 
envelope from some interior region, and presented it to Lucian 
Davlin, who tore open the cover, and took in the purport of the 
message at one glance. His face wore a variety of expressions: 
Annoyance, satisfaction, surprise, all found place as he read. 
He stood in a thoughtful attitude for a brief time, and then, as 
if he had settled the matter in his own mind, said: 

“All right, Mike. Go back now, and tell Bowers to prepare 
to leave to-night. Fll come down and send the required answer 
immediately. Here, take this.” 

Tossing him a piece of money, Lucian turned to Madeline, 
over whose face a look of sorrowful wonder was creeping. 

“‘Man proposes/ my dear! Well, I am ‘disposed of for a 
time. It is only one night sooner, and, after all, what matter? 
Will you decide for me at once, Maidie? Nay, I see you hesi- 
tate still, and time just now is precious. Think till to-night, 
then; think of the lonely days here without me; think of me, 


MAN PROPOSES. 


15 


alone in the big world, wishing and longing for you. I could 
not even write you in safety. Think fast, little woman; and 
when evening comes, meet me here with your answer. If it 
must be separation for a time, dear, tell me when I shall come 
back for you.” 

The girl drew a breath of relief. He would come back — 
that would be better. But seeing his anxiety to be gone, she 
only said: “Very well, Lucian, I will be here.” 

“Then, good-by till evening.” 

A swift kiss, and a strong hand clasp, and he strode away. 

Trampling down the wayside daisies and tender Spring 
grasses; insensible to the beauties of earth and sky; smiling 
still that same queer, meaning smile, he took the path leading 
back to the village. Reaching the site, where the woody path 
terminated in the highway, he turned. Yes, she was looking 
after him; she would be, he knew. He kissed his hand, lifted 
his hat with a courtly gesture, and passed out of her sight. 

“Gad!” he ejaculated, half aloud, “she is a little beauty; 
and half inclined to rebel, too. She won’t go with me to-night, 
I think; but a few weeks of this solitude without me, and my 
Lady Bird will capitulate. The old Turk, her step-father, won’t 
raise much of a hue and cry at her flight, I fancy. Wonder what 
is the secret of his antipathy to Miss Payne.” 

He paced on, wrinkling his brow in thought a moment, and 
then whistling softly as his fancies shaped themselves to his lik- 
ing. Suddenly he stopped, turned, and looked sharply about 
him. 

“I’ll do it!” he exclaimed. “Strange if I can’t extract from 
a broken down old woman any items of family history that 
might serve my purpose. I’ll call on the nurse — what’s hei 
name — to-n ight,” 


16 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Pie glanced across the meadow to where stood the cottage of 
Nurse Hagar, and, as if satisfied with himself and his brilliant 
last idea, resumed his walk. Presently li is pace slackened again, 
and he looked at the crumpled paper which he still retained in 
hi> hand, saying: 

“It’s queer what sent Cora to the city for this flying visit. 
I must keep my Madeline out of her way. If they should 
meet — whew !” 

Evidently, direful things might ensue from a meeting be- 
tween Madeline Payne and this unknown Cora, for after a pro- 
longed whistle, a brief moment of silence, and then a short 
laugh, Davlin said: 

“I should wear a wig, at least,” and he laughed again. “I 
wonder, by Jove! I wonder if old Arthur’s money bags are 
heavy enough to make a card for Cora. Well, I’ll find that 
out, too.” 

g , CHAPTER II. 

THE OLD TREE’S REVELATIONS. 

Meanwhile, strange feelings filled the heart, and troublesome 
thoughts the head, of Madeline Payne. 

She looked about her sorrowfully. The leafy wood seemed 
oifc of her oldest, truest friends. Since her mother’s death, she 
had lived, save for the faithful regard of old Hagar, an unloved 
life. In the only home she knew, she felt herself an object of 
dislike, and met only cold neglect, or rude repulsion. So she 
had made a friend of the shady wood, and welcomed back the 
birds, in early Springtime, with joyful anticipation of Summer 
rest under green branches, lulled and soothed by their songs. 

Wandering here, the acquaintance between herself and Lucian 


THE TREE'S REVELATIONS. 


17 


Davlin had begun. Here six long, bright weeks of the Spring- 
time luid passed, each day finding them lingering longer among 
the leafy shadows, and drawing closer about them both the cords 
of a destiny sad for one, fatal for each. 

Standing with hands clasped loosely before her, eyes down 
dropped, and foot tapping the mossy turf, Madeline presented 
a picture of youth and loveliness such as is rarely seen even in 
a beauty-abounding land. A form of medium height which 
would, in later years, develop much of stately grace; a complex- 
ion of lily-like fairness; and eyes as deep and brown, as ten- 
der and childlike, as if their owner were gazing, ever and 
always, as infants gaze who see only great, grand wonders, and 
never a woe or fear. 

With a wee, small mouth, matching the eyes in expression, 
the face was one to strike a casual observer as lovely — as child- 
ishly sweet, perhaps. Yet there was something more than 
childishness in the broad brow, and firm chin. The little white 
hands were shapely and strong, and the dainty feet pressed down 
the daisies softly yet firmly, with quiet but steady movement. 

Many a man has been mistaken in baby mouth, and sweetly- 
smiling eyes. And whoso should mistake Madeline Payne, in 
the time to come, for “just a child and nothing more,” would 
reckon unwisely, and mayhap learn this truth too late. 

Madeline sat down upon a fallen tree, where she had so often 
talked with her lover. She looked up into the wide spreading 
branches overhead. There was the crooked bough where she 
had, often and often, in past days, sought refuge when troubled 
by her father's harshness, or haunted by dreams of the mother 
she had hardly known. It looked cool and inviting, as if she 
could think to better purpose shrouded by the whispering leaves. 
She stepped upon the fallen trunk, and springing upward, caught 


18 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


a bending limb, and was soon seated cosily aloft, smiling at 
thought of what Lucian would say could he see her there. Long 
she pondered, silent, motionless. Finally, stirring herself and 
shaking lightly an overhanging friendly branch she exclaimed : 

“ That will be best ! Fll stay here for the present. I ? ll teh 
step-papa that I love Lucian, and will never marry his friend, 
Amos Adams, the old fright ! Fll try and be very calm,’ and 
as dutiful as maybe. Then, if he turns me out, very well. If 
he shuts me up — ” Her eyes flashed and she laughed; but there 
was little of mirth in the laughter — “ Why, then, 1 would lead 
him a life, I think! Yes, Fll bid Lucian good-by, for a little 
while, and I'll try and not miss him too much, for — Oh!” 

She had been very busy with her own half-spoken thoughts, 
else she must have sooner discovered their approach, for now 
they were almost underneath her, and they were no less per- 
sonages than her step-father, John Arthur, and her would-be 
suitor, Amos Adams. 

Madeline was about to make known her presence, but her 
ear caught the fragment of a sentence in which her name held 
prominent place. Acting upon impulse, she remained a silent, 
unsuspected listener. 

And so began in her heart and life that drama of pain and 
passion, sin and mystery, that should close round, and harden 
and blight, the darkening future of Madeline Payne. 

A more marked contrast than the two men presented could 
scarcely be imagined. 

jolin Arthur might have been, evidently had been, a hand- 
some man, years ago. But it did not seem possible that, evei: 
in his palmiest days, Amos Adams could have been called any- 
thing save a fright. He was much below the medium height. 
His head was sunken between his shoulders, and thrust forward. 



“Madeline presented a picture of youth aud loveliness.” 


page 17. 

19 

















20 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


and each feature of his ugly face seemed at war with every other; 
while the glance of his greenish gray eye was such as would 
cause a right-minded person involuntarily to cross himself and 
utter, with perfect propriety, the Pharisee’s prayer. 

“The mischief fly away with you, man,” said Mr. Arthur, 
seating himself upon the fallen tree, and striking at the ground 
fiercely with his cane; “what is my dead wife to you? Made- 
line makes my life a burden by these same queries. It’s none 
of your business why the departed Mrs. Arthur left her prop- 
erty to me during my life, and tied it up so as to make me only 
nominal master — mine to use but not sell, not one acre, not a tree 
or stone; all must go intact to Miss Madeline, curse her, at my 
death.” 

“Um-m, yes. Does the girl know anything of this?” 

“If she did, your chances would be Slim,” said the other, 
scornfully. “No; I have taken good care that she should not. 
She has a vixenish temper, if she should get waked up to im- 
agine herself c wronged,’ or any such school-girl nonsense. I 
shall not live many years — this heart disease is gaining on me 
fast; and if the girl is your wife, in case of my death the for- 
tune is as good as yours, you know. I want to have peace while 
I do live; and for this reason, I say, I will give you my step- 
daughter in marriage, and you shall give me the note you hold 
against me for that old debt, the payment of which would 
compel me to live like a beggar for the remainder of my days, 
and the sum of ten thousand dollars.” 

“It’s making a wife a rather expensive luxury,” quoth old 
Amos, seating himself; “but the girl’s a beauty — no disputing 
that point; and — ” 

“Of course she is,” broke in Arthur, impatiently; “worth 
that, and more, to whoever wants her, which, fortunately for 


r 



"AVliat is my dead wife to you?”— page 20. 

21 




22 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


you, I don’t; she is only a kill-joy to me. If you want the 
girl, take her, and he blessed— I’ll give away the bride with all 
the pleasure in the world — and ‘ live happy ever after.’ ” 

There was not much room for argument between these two. 
It was simply a question of exchange, and when old Amos had 
decided that he was not paying too dearly for so fair a piece ol 
flesh and blood, they came to terms without more ado, and being 
agreed that “it’s always best to strike while the iron is hot,’ 
Mr. Arthur suggested that his friend return with him, accept a 
seat at his hospitable board, and hear himself announced form- 
ally to Miss Madeline, as her future lord and master. John 
Arthur had ever exacted and received passive obedience from 
his step-daughter. He had little fear of rebellion now. How 
could she rebel? Was she not dependent upon his bounty for 
her daily bread, even? 

Old Amos troubled his ugly head little if any on this point. 
He recognized no higher potentate than gold. He had bought 
him a wife; he had but to pay the price and take possession of 
the property. 

Madeline Payne sat long on her leafy perch, thinking fast 
and hard, the expressions of her face changing rapidly as she 
revolved, in her mind, different phases of the situation. Sur- 
prise gave place to contempt, as she eyed the departing plotters 
from her green hiding-place. Contempt merged into amuse- 
ment, as she thought of the wonderful contrast between the two 
wooers who had proffered their respective suits, in a manner so 
very different, beneath that self-same tree. A look of fixed re- 
solve settled down upon her countenance at last, and uncurling 
herself, she dropped lightly upon the ground. 

Madeline had made up her mind. That it would be useless 









24 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


to say aught of Lucian, she now knew too well. That she could 
never defy her father’s commands, and still dwell beneath her 
father’s roof, she also knew. She hesitated no longer. Fate, 
stronger than she, had decided for her, she reasoned. Her mind 
once made up, she gave in it no place to fears or misgivings. 
The strength of will and the spirit of rebellion, that were dor- 
mant in her nature, began to stir into life, roused by the injus- 
tice that would rob her of her own. She not only had a way of 
escape, but that way her own inclinations lured her. AVith 
never a fear, never a thought of the days to come, she turned 
from her mockery of a home, from her parent, unnatural, un- 
loving, and unloved, to an unknown, untried world, which was 
all embodied in one word — Lucian. 

The past held for her many dark shadows; the future held 
all that she craved of joy and love— Lucian. 

In her outraged heart there was no room for grief. She had 
heard her dead mother scorned, and by him who, more than all 
others, should have cherished her memory and honored her 
name. She had heard herself bartered away, as a parcel of 
goods, and her very life weighed in the balance as a most ob- 
jectionable thing. Her happiness was scoffed at; her wishes 
ignored as if without existence, and contrary to all nature; even 
her liberty was menaced. 

Slowly she turned away, and very thoughtful was her face as 
she went, but fixed in its purpose as fate itself: and fearless still 
as if life had no dark places, no storm clouds, no despair. 

Oh! they were lovely, innocent eyes; and oh ! it was a sweet, 
sweet mouth ! But the eyes never wavered, and the mouth had no 
trace of weakness in its dainty curves. You have reckoned 
without your host, John Arthur. It is no common-place school- 
girl with whom you have to deal. Madeline Payne possesses a 


THE STORY OF A CRIME, 


25 


nature all untried, yet strong for good or evil. Intense in love 
or hate, fearless to do and dare, she will meet the fate you bring 
upon her — but woe to those who have compassed her downfall! 
If your hand has shaped the destiny of her life, she will no 
less overrule your future and, from afar — perhaps unrecognized, 
unseen — mete out to you measure for measure! 

The grand old tree is sighing out a farewell. The sunlight is 
casting fantastic shadows where her foot, but a moment since, 
rested. The leaves glisten and whisper strange things. The 
golden buttercups laugh up in the sun’s face, as if there were 
no drama of loving and hating, sin and atonement, daily en- 
acted on their green, motherly Losom. And Madeline Payne 
has put her childhood behind her, and turned her face to the 
darkness beyond. 

CHAPTER III. 

THE STORY OF A CRIME. 

Nurse Hagar was displeased. She plied her knitting-needles 
fiercely, and seemed to rejoice in their sharp clicking. She 
rocked furiously backwards and forwards, and sharply admon- 
ished the cat to “take himself away,” or she “would certainly 
rock on his tail.” She “ wanted to do something to somebody, 
she did !” She looked across the fields in the direction of Oakley, 
and dropping her knitting and bringing her chair to a tranquil 
state, soliloquized : 

“It’s always the way with young folks; they don’t never re- 
member that old uns have feelings. They run away after a 
new face, and if it’s a young one and a handsome one, they turn 
evervbodv out of their thoughts; everybody else. Not that I 
think that city fellow’s a handsome chap; by no means,” she 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


*26 

grumbled; “but Maidie does; that’s certain sure. And sir 
won’t let me say a word about him — oh, no; I’m a poor old 
woman, and my advice is not wanted!” 

Hagar resumed her knitting and her rocking with fresh vigor. 
But her face relaxed a measure of its grimness as, looking up, 
her eye rested on a dainty nosegay, tossed in at the window 
only that morning, by this same neglectful young girl. 

“She don’t mean to forget me, to be sure,” she resumed. 
“She is always kind and gentle to her old nurse. She is lone- 
some, of course, and should have young company, like other 
girls, but — ” here the needles slacked again — “drat that city 
diap! I wish he had stayed away from Bellair.” 

“Goodness, auntie, what a face! I am almost afraid to 
come in.” 

Madeline laughed, despite her anxiety, as Aunt Hagar per- 
mitted her opinion of the “city feller” to manifest itself in 
every feature. 

“Get that awfully defiant look out of your countenance, 
auntie,” continued Madeline; “for I’m coming in to have a 
long talk with you, and I must not be frightened in the begin- 
ning.” 

The lovely face disappeared from the open window, and in a 
moment reappeared in the doorway. 

To permit herself to be propitiated in a moment, however, 
was not in the nature of Dame Hagar. 

“I s’pose you think it’s very respectful to pop your saucy 
head in at an old woman’s window, and set her all of a tremble 
and then tell her, because she is not grinning for her own 
amusement, that she looks awfully cross, and that you are 
afraid she will bite you. You are a nice one to talk of being 
afraid; you, who never showed an atom of fear of anything 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


27 


from your cradle up. If you were a bit afraid, when you 
were out in the woods, for instance, and meet a long-legged 
animal with a smooth tongue, and eyes that ought to make 
you nervous, ^wouldn’t be to your discredit, I think. Of course, 
I don’t mean to say that you don’t meet him quite by accident; 
oh, no! And I don’t say that he ain’t a very nice, respectable 
sort of chap, whatever I may think. You are just like your 
poor mother, and if this fellow with a name that might as well 
be Devil, and done with it — ” 

“ There, now, auntie — ” Madeline’s face flushed, and she put 
the cat doAvn with sudden emphasis ; “ I won’t let you say bad 
things of Mr. Davlin, for I think you Avould be sorry fer it af- 
terward.” m 

She drew a low seat to the side of the old lady, and looking 
her full in the face, spoke in a voice Ioav, intense, full of pur- 
pose. 

“ Auntie, it is time you told me more about my mother. You 
have evaded, my step-father has forbidden, my questioning, but 
if I am eA r er to know aught of my dead mother’s history, I in- 
tend to hear it from your lips to-day.” 

Surprise for a time held the old woman speechless; a look of 
sorrow and affection drove the querulousness out of her Taco 
and voice. 

“What ails you, child?” she said, Avonderinglv. “Do you 
want to make Mr. Arthur hate me more, and keep you from me 
entirely? Don’t you know, dearie, hoAv he swore that the day 
I told you these things, he would forbid you to visit me; and 
if you disobeyed, take you away where I could not even hear of 
you?” 

Tears Avere in Hagar’s eyes, and she held out her Avrinkled 
hands imploringly, “Don’t tease your old nurse, dearie; don’t. 


28 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


I can’t tell you these things now, and they could not make you 
any happier, child. Wait a little; the time will come — ” 

“So will old age, auntie; and death, and all the knowledge we 
want, I suppose, when it is too late to make it profitable. Well, 
auntie, I will tell you something in exchange for my mother’s 
story, and to make it easier for you to relate it. But first, will 
you answer a few questions? — wait, I know what you would 
say,” as the old woman made a deprecating movement, and es- 
sayed to speak. “Hear me, now.” 

Hagar looked at the girl earnestly for a moment, and then 
said, quietly: 

“Go on then, dearie.” 

“First,” pursued Madeline; “my father dislikes me very 
much; is this the truth?” Hagar nodded assent. 

“He dislikes you because you were always good to me.” 
Here she paused, and Hagar again nodded. 

“Because you were attached to my mother.” Again she 
paused, and again the old woman bowed assent. 

“And because” — the girl fixed the eyes of the old nurse with 
her own, — “ because you were too familiar with my mother’s past, 
and his, and knew too well the secret of his hatred of me!” 

Hagar sat silent and motionless, but Madeline, who had 
read her answer in the troubled face, continued: “Very good; 
I knew all this before, and I’ll tell you what else I know. I 
know why Mr. John Arthur hates me!” 

Hagar opened her mouth, and shut it again quickly. 

“ He hates me,” pursued Madeline, “because my mother left 
him her fortune so tied up that he can only use it; never dis- 
pose of it. And at his death it reverts to me.” 

Hagar still looked her amazement, and Madeline condensed 
the remainder of her force into one telling shot. 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


29 


"If I would be kind enough to die, lie would consider it a, 
great favor. But as I evidently intend to live long, he desires, 
of course, to see me happy. Therefore he has bargained me in 
marriage to Amos Adams, for the splendid consideration of a 
few thousand dollars, and the promise of a few thousand more 
if I die young!” 

Still the bewildered look rested upon the old woman’s face, 
and still she gazed at the young girl before her. Suddenly, she 
leaned forward, and taking th,e fair head between two trembling 
hands, gazed long at her. As if satisfied at last with her scru- 
tiny, she drew a deep, sighing breath and leaned back in her 
chair. 

" It’s true/’ groaned Hagar ; " it’s too true ! She has found it 
out, and my little girl has gone away; — my Baby Madeline is 
become a woman ! There was never a coward in all the race, 
and a Payne never forgave ! It has come at last,” she wailed, 
"and now, what will she do?” 

Madeline lost not a look nor tone; and when the old woman 
ceased her rocking and moaning, she suggested, with a half 
smile : 

"Hadn’t I better marry old Adams, auntie, worry them both 
into untimely graves, and be a rich young widow ?” 

Hagar gazed at her in silence. And Madeline, taking her 
hand in her own, said: "Shall I tell you how I discovered all 
this, auntie, dear?” 

"Yes, child; go on.” And she bent upon the girl a look of 
attention. 

Madeline drew close to her side, and briefly related what had 
transpired while she sat in her favorite tree; not stating, by the 
bye, how it occurred that she was in the grove at that very 
opportune time. IJagar’s indignation was unbounded, but she 


30 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


continued to gaze at Madeline in a strange, half fearful, half 
wondering, wholly expectant way, that the girl could not 
interpret. 

“ And now, Aunt Hagar,” pursued Madeline, seriously, “I 
want to understand this matter more fully, and I will not say a 
word of my plans until you have told me what I came to hear. 
I shall not come to you again for this information ; it is surely 
my right, and time now is precious.” 

Madeline half rose, seeing that her nurse still rocked dismally 
and looked irresolute. “I can bide my time, and fight my 
battles alone, if need be,” she continued, coldly. “I won’t 
trouble you again, nurse,” turning as if to go. 

“Stop, child!” cried Hagar; “let an old woman think. I’ll 
tell you all I can; all I know. Don’t turn away from your 
old nurse, dearie; her only thought is for your good. Yes; 
you must not be left in the dark now, — sit down child; sit 
down.” 

Madeline resumed her seat, and old Hagar, after another 
season of moaning and rocking, proceeded to relate, with many 
wanderings from the point, and many interpolations and 
opinions of her own, the brief, sad story of Mrs. Arthur’s mar- 
ried life and early death. Bereft of Hagar’s ornamental extras, 
it was as follows : 

Madeline Harcourt, an orphan, and the adopted daughter of 
a wealthy bachelor uncle, had incurred his displeasure by lov- 
ing and marrying Lionel Payne, handsome, brave to a fault, 
with no other wealth than his keen intellect, his unsullied honor, 
and his loving, manly heart. 

Lionel Payne had entered upon the study of law, but cir- 
cumstances threw in his way certain mysteries that had long 
been puzzling the heads of the foremost detectives, and the 



*1 can bide my time, and fight my battles alone if need be.”— page 80 

31 ~ 



32 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


young law student discovered in himself not only a marked 
taste for the study of mysteries, but. a talent that was remark- 
able. So he gave up his law studies to become a detective. He 
rose rapidly in his new profession, giving all the strength of 
his splendid ability to the study of intricate and difficult cases, 
and became known among detectives, and dreaded among 
criminals, as “Payne, the Expert.” 

He had lived two happy years with his young wife, and been 
six months the proud father of baby Madeline, when he fell a 
victim to his dangerous pursuit, shot dead by a bullet from the 
hand of a fleeing assassin. 

John Arthur had been a fellow law student with Lionel 
Payne, and he had followed the career of the young expert 
with curious interest, being, as much as was possible to his self- 
ish nature, a friend and admirer of the rising young detective. 
And Lionel Payne, open and manly himself, and seeing no trace 
of the serpent in the seeming disinterestedness of Arthur, intro- 
duced him proudly into his happy home. Arthur was struck 
by the beauty of the young wife, and became a frequent and 
welcome visitor. 

One day, there came to the office where John Arthur earned 
his bread reluctantly, as a salaried clerk, the uncle of Madeline 
Payne. He had come to make a will, in which he left all his 
possessions to his beloved neiee, Madeline, and her heirs forever 
after. This was several months before the sudden death of 
Lionel Payne. 

Ten months after she became a widow, Madeline’s uncle died. 
Left alone with her little child, and with no resources but her 
own efforts, Madeline’s mother struggled on, ever the object of 
the kind watchfulness and unobtrusive care of John Arthur, 
who professed to adore the child for the sake of* the father, and 


THE STORY OF A CRIME, 


33 


through the baby Madeline, gradually won his way in the 
mother’s esteem. Mrs. Payne was deeply grateful, and her 
mother’s heart was touched by the devotion of Arthur to her 
little child. So it came about that, after a time, she gave him 
her hand, and all of her heart that was not buried with Lionel. 
A little later she learned that her uncle was dead, and she be- 
came mistress of a handsome fortune. 

Soon came the knowledge that her husband’s heart was not 
all gold, and the suspicion, as well, that her uncle’s will and its 
purport had long been no secret to him. But, partly from force 
of habit, and partly because he was not yet quiet hardened, John 
Arthur kept up his farce of affection for the child. And while 
his wife awoke to a knowledge of many of his short-comings, 
she always believed in his love for her little one. 

The two elements that were strongest in the nature of John 
Arthur were selfishness and pride. From his youth up his 
idols had been gold and self. Born into the world minus that 
“ golden spoon” for which lie sighed in youth, and schemed in 
later years, he had ever felt towards said world a half-fledged 
enmity. As he reached the age of manhood, his young sister 
was formally adopted by the only surviving relatives of the 
two; and becoming in due course of time and nature sole pos- 
sessor of a very nice little fortune, afterwards held her head 
very high. Later, in consequence of some little indiscretions 
of her brother at the time when lie was set free in the world — 
the result of the popular superstition held by him that "the 
world owed him a living,” — she field herself aloof from and 
ignored him completely. 

By degrees Mrs. Arthur’s eyes became opened to the true 
character of the man she had married. Moments she had of 
doubting, and then of fearing that she wronged him too deeply, 

3 


34 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


for her nature was a just one. It was in one of these latter 
moods that she made her will, before she had become aware that 
even his love for her little girl was only a well acted lie; be- 
lieving her secure of love and care during his life, she made 
sure that, at his death, her darling should be supplied with all 
that money could give. She had long been in the fatal toils of 
that dread destroyer, heart disease, and suddenly, before she had 
found opportunity for securing her little daughter further, as 
she had since begun to realize it was needful to do, she was 
seized with a paroxysm that snapped the frail cord of life. 

A short time before her death, she had given into the keeping 
of old Hagar, a package, to be delivered to little Madeline when 
she should become a woman, and with the express wish that, 
should John Arthur prove a kind guardian meanwhile, she 
would burn the journal it contained, unread. 

Old Hagar now placed in Madeline’s hands the package, which 
was found to contain her mother’s most valuable jewels, and the 
tear-stained journal, which the girl seated herself to peruse, with 
sorrowful awe. 

The last page being turned, and the sad life of her mother 
fully revealed, Madeline bowed her head and wept bitterly, heed- 
less of the attempt of old Hagar to comfort her, until the name 
of her step-father upon the old woman’s lips brought her sud- 
denly to her feet, the tears still on her cheeks, but her eyes flash- 
ing, and on her countenance a look that might have been a 
revelation to John ArthurJjad that gentleman been there to see. 
Taking the old woman’s hand, and holding it tightly in her own, 
the girl said : 

“ Thanks, auntie, for recalling me. I have no time for tears 
now. Liston, and don’t interrupt me. My poor mother died 
with a heart filled with fears for my future, left to that man’s 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


35 


keeping. At the time of her death, he believed himself her 
unconditional heir. She feared for her life with him, and her 
sickness was aggravated in every possible manner by him, and I 
fully believe that, in intent if not in deed, John Arthur is my 
mother’s murderer /” 

The old woman’s face expressed as plainly as words could do, 
that she shared in this belief. The girl went on, in the same 
rapid, firm tone: 

“He killed the mother for gold, and now he would sell her 
child. He will fail; and this is but the beginning. As he 
drove my mother into her grave, I will hunt him into his ! He 
shall suffer all that she suffered, and more ! I know where you 
obtained your independence now, Aunt Hagar; and he hates 
you doubly because my mother’s love provided for you a home, 
and for her child a haven in time of need. It was well. Keep 
the old cottage open for me, Aunt Hagar. Keep an eye on John 
Arthur, for my sake. Never fear for me, whatever happens. 
Expect to hear from me at any time, to see me at any moment. 
Don’t answer any questions about me. A thousand thanks for 
all your love and kindness, auntie; good-by.” 

Before the old woman could recover from her astonishment, 
or utter a word, Madeline had^ kissed her, swiftly taken up the 
precious package, and was gone! Hagar hastened to the door, 
but the girl was speeding swiftly down the path, and was quickly 
lost to view. 

“ Oh ! Oh ! Oh !” moaned Hagar, seating herself in the door- 
way; “her father’s passion and her mother’s pride! Sorrow 
and trouble before her, and she all alone; dark, dark, dark; 
the world against her! Sorrow and trouble — it’s in the blood! 
And she’ll never give it up! She’ll fight her wrongs to the 
bitter end. Oh, my precious girl !” and she buried her head in 
her apron and wept. 


36 


M A DELI ’S! E I ' A YNE. 


The sun’s last ray had faded ik»m the highest hill-top. The 
little birds had folded their w.iui/s and hushed their warbliners. 
Dark clouds came sweeping up from the west, and one, heavy 
and black, passed above the roof of Oakley, bent down, and 
rested there. Hagar, still sorrowing in the door-way, saw and 
interpreted. Dark days to come to the master of that over- 
shadowed house. Dreary days and bitter nights — ah, how 
many, before that cloud should be lifted from over it, or light 
hearts beat beneath its roof. 

“I beg pardon, madame, you appear in trouble; perhaps I 
intrude?” 

It was Lucian Davlin’s soft, hizy voice, and that disagreeable 
half smile lurked about the corners of his eyes and mouth. 

“ I’ve had more welcome visitors,” said the old woman, with 
more truth than politeness, and rubbing her eyes with the cor- 
ner of her apron, “what do you want?” 

“Only a small matter of information, which I believe you 
can give me.” 

“Well,” said Hagar, testily. 

“I want to make a few inquiries about Mr. Arthur of 
Oakley.” 

“ About Miss Madeline, I suppose you mean. I won’t tell 
you a word — ” 

“My dear, good woman, I don’t ask nor wish any informa- 
tion regarding that young lady— my inquiries solely concern the 
father. He is said to be wealthy !” 

“What is John Arthur or h is money to you?” she questioned, 
eying him with much disfavor. 

“Nothing whatever,” he indifferently replied. “ I merely in- 
quire on behalf of a friend.” 

“I’ll throw him off the scent if he does mean Madeline,” 
thought the old woman. 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


37 


"Well, Mr, whatever your name is, if it will satisfy your 
friend to know that Mr. John Arthur is master of Oakley, and 
everybody knows there’s no finer property in the State, and that 
he has a yearly income of ten thousand or more, why, tell him 
or her so. And you may as well say, at the same time, that he 
is too stingy and mean to keep the one in repair, or spend de- 
cently the other. And when he dies” — here she suddenly 
checked herself — "well, when he dies, his heirs, whoever they 
may be, w T ill inherit all the more because of his meanness.” 

“ And who, pray, may be his heirs?” 

"How should I know who a stingy old reprobate will choose 
to inherit after him? I think he has a sister somewhere, but I 
don’t know.” 

"H’m, thank you — for my friend. Good-night.” 

Smiling that same Mephistophelian smile, Lucian Davlin 
sauntered away, apparently satisfied with himself and what was 
passing in his mind. 

"He’ll do,” he muttered; "and she’ll do him. It will be a 
good thing for her, just now, and very convenient for me, into 
the bargain. Cora’s a marvellously fine woman, but little Made- 
line is fresh as a rose, and a few months of the city will make 
her sharp enough. Only let me keep them apart ; that’s all.” 
Satisfaction beamed in his eye and smiled on his lip. "Pretty 
Madeline will be the envy of half the boulevard.” 

Now he has neared the trysting tree. "I think I’ll just 
smoke here, and wait for my pretty bird ; this is the place an$ 
almost the time.” 

He smoked and he waited ; the time came, and passed ; his 
cigar expired ; the shadows deepened — but still he waited. 

And he waited in vain. No light form advanced through 
the gathering night; no sweet voice greeted him. 


38 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


The time was far past now, and, muttering an oath, the dis- 
appointed lover strode away, and was lost in the night. 

Madeline was standing in her own room, the threshold of 
which John Arthur had never crossed since the day when a 
silent form was borne from it, and laid in that peaceful home, 
the churchyard. She had just received the summons, for which, 
only, she lingered — the command of Mr. Arthur to attend at 
the altar of hospitality, and pour, for Mr. Amos Adams, the 
tea. 

She was attired in a neat dark garment which was vastly be- 
coming. She had made her toilet with more than usual care, 
as if, perhaps, to do honor to her ancient suitor — at least so 
thought Mr. Arthur, when she presented herself before him. 

She had put her chiefest treasures in a little, a very little, 
travelling bag. And now she threw across her arm a large 
cloak, took her hat, veil, and bag, and descended softly to the 
hall below. It was faintly lighted from the lower end, and 
Madeline deposited her belongings in a darkened niche near a 
door, peeped out into the night that had come on cloudy and 
starless, and entered the room where waited the two conspirators, 
and supper. 

John Arthur was more bland and smiling than Madeline had 
ever before known him, while as for old Amos, he nearly lost 
himself in a maze of grins and chuckles, but displayed a very 
unloverlike appetite, nevertheless, and divided his attention 
pretty evenly between the beautiful face of Madeline, and the 
viands on the table. 

Madeline betrayed no sign of surprise at her step-papa’s un- 
wonted cordiality, and no annoyance at the ogling and chuck- 
ling of her antiquated suitor. In truth, she favored him with 
more than one expressive smile, the meaning of which he little 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


39 


guessed, as she contrasted him once more with handsome Lucian 
Davlin, and smiled again at the picture of his coming defeat. 

The meal was partaken of in comparative silence, all appar- 
ently quite satisfied with their own thoughts — ah, how dif- 
ferent! It was not until old Jane, the servant, had been dis- 
missed that Mr. Arthur drew his chair a trifle nearer that of 
his friend, and leaning his arms upon the table, looked across 
at Madeline, and said: 

“ My dear, I believe you are aware of the honor this gentle- 
man desires to confer upon you? I think I have hinted at the 
truth upon one or two occasions ?” 

Madeline veiled her too expressive eyes behind their long 
lashes, but made no reply. 

“It is my desire/’ he continued, surveying with satisfaction 
the appearance of humility with which his words were received, 
“and the desire of Mr. Adams as well, that we should come to 
a satisfactory understanding to-night. We will, therefore, set- 
tle the preliminaries at once: — this is your desire, I think, Mr. 
Adams?” 

“Oh, certainly! Oh, yes, yes,” ejaculated old Amos, in a 
transport of grins. 

“And this will, I trust,” — he was growing more stately and 
polite every moment — “ this, of course, is satisfactory to you, 
Miss Madeline?” 

“Perfectly.” She looked him full in the face now, and some- 
how her glance slightly impaired his feeling of dignity and 
security. 

“Very good; and now having formally accepted the proffered 
hand of Mr. Adams — ” 

“ Pardon me, sir, you are too fast. Mr. Adams has not of- 
fered himself.” 


40 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Nonsense/’ — Mr, Arthur suddenly forgot his politeness — 
“ haven’t I just stated his offer?” 

Madeline leaned back in her chair, and looked from one to 
the other with a tranquil smile. 

“ Perhaps; but unfortunately there is a law in existence which 
prohibits a man from marrying his grandmother, and likewise 
objects, I. believe, to a young woman’s espousing her step-papa, 
however much adored. And as you can’t marry me, my dear 
parent and guardian, why I object to listening to a proposal 
from your lips.” 

John Arthur gazed in angry consternation upon the girl’s 
still smiling face, but before the impatient words that he would 
have uttered could find voice, old Amos, who had interpreted 
her smiles as being favorable to himself, came gallantly to the 
rescue. 

“ Right! quite right,” he chuckled. “Of course, you know, 
Arthur — Miss Madeline, ahem — that’s what I meant, you know. 
It’s the proper way,” he gasped; and the general expression of 
, his countenance did not tend to make his observations the more 
; lucid — “I meant, you know — ah, well — will you honor me 
; Miss Madeline — by — by your hand, you know?” 

This effort of oratory was received with smiling attention by 
, the girl, who now addressed herself entirely to him, without 
] heeding the effect of her words upon her step-father, or his in- 
terpolations, as she proceeded. 

j “Mr. Adams;” — she spoke in a low, even tone, and gradually 
i permitted the real feelings that were seeking for expression to 
show themselves in her every feature — “ Mr. Adams, I think I 
^ appreciate as it deserves the honor you desire to bestow upon 
jme; believe me, too, when I say that I am as grateful as it is 
r proper I should be. But, Mr. Adams, I am only a mere girl, 
and you might pay too dearly for me.” 


THE STORY OF A CRIME. 


41 


"What the deuce does the fool mean?” growled Mr. Arthur. 

" I don’t dispute the fact that I am a perfectly marketable 
commodity, and it is very right and proper that my dear step- 
papa — who dotes on me, whose idol I have been for long years 
— should set a high valuation upon my unworthy head. Yet 
this little Arcadian transaction is really not just the thing for 
the present century and country. And so, Mr. Adams, I must 
beg leave to thank you for the honor you proffer, and, thanking 
you, to decline it!” 

For a moment no one spoke; there was neither sound nor 
movement in the room. John Arthur was literally speechless 
with rage, and old Amos was just as speechless from as- 
tonishment; while Madeline gazed from one to the other 
unmoved. As soon as he could articulate, John Arthur con- 
fronted her, and taking her roughly by the shoulder, demanded : 

"What do you mean, you ungrateful jade? What are you 
talking about?” 

"About your contract in flesh and blood, Mr. Arthur. About 
your very worthy scheme for putting money in your pockets by 
making me this man’s wife. If I am to be sold, sir, I will 
make my own bargain; be very sure of that ; and this is not my 
bargain !” 

"Don’t talk to me of bargains, you little idiot! Do you 
think to defy me? Do you dare to defy me?” 

His rage passed all bounds. She put the width of the table 
between them and surveyed him across it, mockingly. 

" Listen, girl, I am your lawful guardian ; you shall obey 
me!” 

"Really, now, don’t, step-papa; you are actually purple in 
the face! You might die, you know; think of your heart, do, 
and take a glass of water ” 


42 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Old Adams collapsed in the remote corner whither he had 
fled. The miser was not at home in a tempest, and this was 
already beyond his depth. He gasped in speechless amaze and 
affright. Was this the girl he had thought to mold as his wife, 
this fearless, defiant creature? Already he began to congratu- 
late himself upon his lucky escape. “She would murder me 
some day,” he thought, shuddering. 

For the time being, John Arthur was a madman. Defied, 
mocked, by this girl who had been a burden to his very life! 
He raged, he raved, he cursed; and so raging and raving, he 
cursed her, and then in vile, bitter words hurled his anathema 
at her dead mother’s memory. 

Then the mocking smile was gone, the taunting voice changed 
its tone; and as it changed, old Amos, cowering in his corner, 
shuddered afresh. Her whole face underwent a transforma- 
tion. Her form dilated, she sprang before her step-father and 
the ring of her voice checked the imprecations on his lips. 

“Stop,” she cried; “don’t add the last drop to your already 
overfull measure! Don’t double the force of the thunderbolt 
that will strike you some day ! Is it not enough that you have 
hated me all my life through; that you have loaded down my 
childhood with unkind words, curses, and wishes for my death? 
Not enough that you follow me with your hatred because my 
mother’s own will be mine at your death ? Not enough that 
you would barter my life — yes, my life — for gold, sell my 
heart’s blood for your own ease and comfort? And now must 
you pollute the name of my mother, as you polluted her life? 
Never breathe her name again ; never dare to name her ! I, her 
daughter, tell you that for her every tear, every heart pang, 
every sigh, you shall pay dearly; dearly! I will avenge my 
mother’s wrongs, some day ; for you are her murderer V* 



' I will avenge my mother’s wrongs some day; for you areher murderer 

‘ page 42. 


43 



44 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


John Arthur gazed in speechless amaze into the space before 
him — but she was gone ! The stern, vengeful, set face was no 
longer there. The proud, ringing voice was no longer sound- 
ing in his ear. The uplifted, warning, threatening hand men- 
aced him only in memory. And before the might of her purpose, 
and the force of her maledictions, he stood as in a trance. 

When he had so far recovered himself as to think of her 
sudden disappearance, he went out quickly. The entrance door 
stood wide open ; the dim light flickered on an empty hall and 
stairway ; the sky was black with clouds, and never a star ; the 
wind moaned about the house; and across the meadow came 
the doleful howl of old Hagar’s watch-dog. 

But Madeline was not to be found. 

Always, in the days to come, he remembered her face as it had 
looked on him that night. Often in dreams he would start and 
cry out, haunted by the sound of her scornful voice, the spectre 
of her threatening hand. 


CHAPTER IV. 

THE DIE IS CAST. 

Lucian Davlin paced the platform of the Bellair depot, in a 
very unpleasant frame of mind. 

His companion, — half servant, half confederate, wholly and 
entirely a rascal, — discerning his mood and, as ever, adapting 
himself to it, had withdrawn to a respectful distance. Only 
the shine of his cigar, glowing through the darkness, betokened 
his proximity, or the fact that the dark platform was not in the 
sole possession of the sullen man who paced its brief length, 







46 


MADELINE PAYNE, 


and questioned the Fate in which he trusted, and which, for once, 
had played him a sorry trick. 

He had been deceived by a mere school-girl. She had not 
even deigned him a farewell word. He had lost a fair prize. 

“Gad!” he muttered, biting viciously at his cigar, “to be 
baffled like this; to lose that little beauty; to be foiled like a 
moon-struck idiot and never know how or why! I can’t write 
her, with that cursed old step-father to interfere. I can’t re- 
turn again very soon. And she is such a little beauty !” 

He paused at the end of the darkened platform, and looked 
down the trafck; in the direction of the grove where they had 
met, and of Madeline’s home. It was almost time for the train. 
At the upper end of the platform, the station master flashed 
his lantern, tumbled the luggage closer to the track and ex- 
amined the checks critically; while the Man of Tact came out 
from his retirement and overlooked the proceeding. 

Something was coming down the track, swiftly, silently. 
He could just discern a shape moving toward him* It came 
nearer, and he moved up a few paces, and turned again where 
the lantern’s rays fell upon him. It came nearer yet and paused 
in the shadow. It was a woman’s form, and it beckoned. Pie 
approached carelessly. 

“ Lucian !” She came close to him, and placed her hand upon 
his • i, drawing her breath hard and quick. 

He drew her farther into the shadow and clasped his arms 
about her. “Little one! You have walked fast, — how your 
heart beats! I had given you up. Is it ‘good by,’ dear?” 

She silently held up the little chatelaine, which lie felt rather 
than saw, and took from her hand. In the darkness, he smiled 
again the old exultant smile not good to see, and pressing her 
closer in his arms, said : 


THE DIE IS CAST. 


47 


u Don’t try to talk, sweet one; see, yonder comes our fiery 
horse and soon we will be far on our way. Take my arm, little 
one, and trust him who loves you. Look your last at the 
scene of your past loneliness, — to-morrow comes the gay 
world.” 

Rattling and shrieking, the train approached. Lucian hur- 
ried his companion upon the rear platform ; and neither his 
comrade, who entered the smoking car without looking about 
him, nor the station master, busy with his trunks and valises, 
observed that a third passenger quitted Bellair station on the 
night express. 

About them, the* passengers nodded, yawned or slept. Out- 
side, swiftly passing darkness. And every moment was hurry- 
ing her farther and farther away from all familiar scenes and 
objects, out to a life' all untried,' a world all new and strange. 
But she never thought of this. She was not elated, neither was 
she cast down. She felt no fear ; — and, afterwards, she remem- 
bered that she indulged in no bright visions of the future during 
her swift flight. 

She had prepared herself to relate her story, to describe the 
scene she had juft passed through, to tell him all. But he had 
other things to occupy his mind, and bidding her to rest and 
save all she might have to relate until the morrow, he relapsed 
into silence and thought, only now and then gently speaking a 
word, and looking after her comfort with a happy grace pos- 
sessed by few, and so powerful in the winning of a woman. 

On, on, through the black night — youth and age, joy and 
sorrow, hope and despair, good and evil; on together through 
the night; on, on. Near to the great city; near to the wel- 
come, dark or bright, awaiting the journey’s end. Blacker grew 
the night, wilder shrieked the wind in angry protest against the 


48 


MAPEIANu PAYNE. 


defiant, fiery, resistless monstei upon whom its rage fell impo- 
tent. Now pausing; now rushing on with a shriek and a roar; 
nearer, nearer to the scene of ti.e new life, dawning grimly upon 
the fair girl, all unconscious, unheeding. 

They halted at a wayside station — -just one of those little 
hamlets only a few miles removed from, and really a part of 
the great city. One passenger came on board, sauntering down 
the coach’s length listlessly, wearily. He threw himself into a 
reversed seat in a half reclining attitude, and So his careless, 
wandering gaze fell first upon Madeline, seated opposite and 
Very near. 

She sees him just as she sees the rest, vaguely. She remem- 
bers, later, that he had a good face and that she had thought it 
then. But confused and wearied in mind and body, she feels 
no inclination to observe or think. So they were hurried on, 
and no whisper of her heart, no quickening of the pulses, or 
Sensation of joy or fear, warned her that she was sitting under 
the gaze and in the presence of the good and the evil forces that 
were to compass and shap>: her life. 

Open your eyes, oh, Madeline, before it is too late. See the 
snare that is spreading beneath your feet; read aright the bright 
glance that shines on y ju from those handsome, fateful eyes. 
Interpret truly the smile turned on you now. Alas! what 
woman ever saw guile A the eyes of the man she loved? Never 
one, until those eyes have ceased to smile upon her, and her 
fate is sealed. What one ever yet recognized the false ring of 
the voice that had never, as yet, addressed her save in honeyed 
tones, that seemed earih’s sweetest music toiler ears? None, 
until the voice had changed and forgotten its love words; none, 
until it was too late. 

AVhat Madeline saw, was a man who was to her the embodi- 


THE DIE IS CAST. 


49 


raent of all manly grace, her all of joy and love, of truth and 
trust. And, sitting opposite, just a young man with fair curl- 
ing hair, and frank blue eyes; with a fine manly face, and an 
air of refinement. A very nice young man; but not like her 
hero. 

Not like her hero? No, thank heaven for that, Madeline, 
else your way would have been far more drear, else your life 
might have known never a ray of sunlight, in the long days to 
come. 

On, on; nearer and yet nearer the long journey’s end. Both 
thinking of her, but how differently ! 

One pityingly, sadly, fearing for her fate, longing to save 
her from the precipice which she could not see and still wear 
that look of sweet trustfulness. 

One triumphantly, as of a fair prize gained ; a new tribute to 
his power and strength; another smile from Chance; one more 
proof that he was a favored one of Fortune, and that life ever 
gave him good tilings from out the very best. 

They are very near their journey’s end now, and Lucian 
iXivlin whispers briefly to Madeline, and lounges out to give 
some necessary directions' to the neglected companion of his 
wanderings. 

Hastily the young man opposite rises, and crossing to Made- 
line bends over her, speaking hurriedly. 

“Pardon me, madame, but are you a stranger to the city?” 

“Yes/ After giving her answer she wonders why she did 
it, remembering that it is from a stranger the question comes, 
and that it is therefore an impertinence. 

“ I thought as much !” — the blue eyes look troubled, and the 
manly voice hurries on. “The time may come, I hope it will 
pot, when you will need a friend. If so, this card bears my 

4 


60 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


address, — take it, keep it, and believe me, I speak from honest 
motives and a desire to serve you.” 

He drops a card in her lap, and as she makes a gesture of 
repulsion, he says, entreatingly : “ Take it; in the name of your 
mother I ask if.” 

She snatches up the card impulsively, and looks for one mo- 
ment straight in his eyes. Then drawing a long sighing breath 
says, simply, “I will,” and turns away as she puts it in her 
pocket, never so much as glancing at it. 

“ Thank you.” He lifts liis hat, and resumes his seat and his 
former attitude just as Lucian reappears. 

Now all was bustle and confusion, the journey’s end was 
reached; and through the hurrying, jostling crowd, past flick- 
ering lamps, and sleepy guards, they went under the dusky 
arches of the mammoth city station, out among the bawling 
’bus drivers and brawling hackmen, past them, until a carriage, 
that seemed to be in waiting for them just beyond the noisy 
crowd, was reached. Stepping into this, they were about to 
drive away when, in the shadow, and very near them, Made- 
line discerned the form of the Unknown of the railway train. 
Then Lucian gave the order from the carriage window, and 
they rolled away. 

The man in the shadow heard, and stepping into the nearest 
carriage, repeated the order given by Lucian the moment before, 
adding: “ Quick; don’t lose a moment!” 

And thus it was that a carriage passed swiftly by that which 
contained Davlin and his companion, and the flash of their 
vehicle’s lamp showed Madeline the face looking from its window. 

Again that face seen in the shadow — how strange, thought she; 
but her lover was speaking and she forgot all else. 

“Darling, I must leave you soon. I came up to-night on a 



“Take it; in the name of your mother I ask it.— page 50. 



52 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


matter of business, and to meet a friend who will leave to-mor- 
row early. I must therefore keep my appointment to-night, 
late as it is; or rather this morning, for it is midnight and past. 
You will not be afraid, dear, left alone for a little while in a 
great hotel ?” 

“ I am not afraid, Lucian, but — ” 

“But lonely; is that it? Well, sweetheart, it’s only for a 
little while, and to-morrow I will, come for you, and all shall be 
arranged. We’ll have no more separations then. Best well 
and at noon to-morrow be ready; I will be with you then. 
Meantime, your every want will be supplied, and let the morrow 
find my little treasure bright-eyed and blooming.” 

“Oh, Lucian, Lucian ! how strange this seems. I can’t realize 
it at all.” 

He laughed lightly. “Not afraid, little one?” 

“Not afraid, Lucian, no; but I can’t, explain or describe my 
feelings. I suppose I need rest; that is all.” 

“That is all, depend upon it; and here we are. One kiss, 
Madeline, the last till to-morrow.” 

He folded her tenderly in his arms, and then sprang lightly 
from the carriage. 

Up and down, far as the eye could see, the street lamps glit- 
tered, and as Madeline stepped from the carriage she observed 
another roll away. High above her loomed the great hotel, and 
after midnight though it was, all here was life and bustle. The 
scene was novel to the half bewildered girl. Clinging to her 
lover’s arm, she entered the reception-room and, sitting opposite 
the door, saw a form pass in the direction Lucian had taken, 
as he went to register her name and order for her “all that the 
house could afford.” 

“I did not give your real name, because of your step-father, 


THE DIE IS CAST. 


63 


you know,” said Lucian, upon his return. “I registered you as 
Miss Weir, that name being the first to occur to me.” 

She looked a trifle disturbed, but said nothing. A few words 
more and a servant appeared. 

“To conduct you to your room,” said Lucian. 

Together they moved towards the door; there he lifted his 
hat, with profound courtesy, and said in a very audible tone: 
“Good-night, Miss Weir; I will call to-morrow noon ; pleasant 
dreams.” 

“To-morrow noon,” she echoed. 

As she watched his retreating figure, another passed her; a 
man who, meeting her eye, lifted his hat and passed out. 

“ He again !” whispered the girl to herself ; “ how very strange.” 

Alone in her room, the face of this man looked at her again, 
and sitting down, she said, wearily: “Who is he? what does he 
mean? His name — I’ll look at the card.” 

Taking it from her pocket, she read aloud : Clarence Vaughan, 
M. D., No. 430 B street. 

“Clarence Vaughan, M. D.,” she repeated. “What did he 
mean? I must tell Lucian to-morrow; to-nightl am too weary 
to think. Search for me, John Arthur; find me if you can! 
To-morrow — what will it bring, I wonder?” 

Weary one, rest, for never again will you sleep so innocently, 
so free from care as now. Sleep well, nor dream! 

She slept. Of the three who had been brought into contact 
thus strangely, Madeline slept most soundly and dreamed the 
brighter dreams. 

It was the last ray of her sunlight; when the day dawned, 
her night began. 


54 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


CHAPTER V. 

A SHREWD SCHEME. 

An elegant apartment, one of a suite in a magnificent block 
such as are the pride of our great cities. 

Softest carpets, of most exquisite pattern; curtains of richest 
lace; lambrequins of costly texture; richly-embroidered and 
velvet-covered sleepy-hollows and lounging chairs; nothing stiff, 
nothing that did not betoken abandonment to ease and pleasure; 
downy cushions; rarest pictures; loveliest statuettes; finest 
bronzes; delicate vases; magnificent, full length mirrors, a book- 
case, itself a rare work of art, containing the best works of the 
best authors, all in the richest of bindings — nothing here that 
the most refined and cultivated taste could disapprove, and yet 
everything bespoke the sybarite, the voluptuary. A place where- 
in to forget that the world held aught save beauty; a place for 
luxurious revelry, and repose filled with lotus dreams. 

Such was the bachelor abode of Lucian Davlin, as the glow- 
ing gas lights revealed it on the dark night of the arrival of this 
gentleman in the city. 

Moving restlessly about, as one who was perfectly familiar 
with all this glowing richness, only because movement was a 
necessity to her; trailing her rich dress to and fro in an im- 
patient promenade, and twisting recklessly meantime a delicate 
bit of lace and embroidery with plump, white fingers — a woman 
waited and watched for the coming of Lucian Davlin. 

A woman, fair of face, hazel-eyed, sunny-haired, with a form 
too plump to be quite classical, yet graceful arid prepossessing in 
the extreme. A very fair face, and a very wise one; the face of 


A SHREWD SCHEME. 


55 


a woman of the world, who knows it in all its phases; who is 
able, in her own peculiar manner, to guide her life bark success- 
fully if not correctly, and who has little to acquire, in the way 
of experience, save the art of growing old gracefully and of 
dying with an acquitted conscience. 

No unsophisticated girl was Cora Weston, but a woman of 
eight-and-twenty ; an adventuress by nature and by calling, and 
with beauty enough,* and brains enough, to make her chosen 
profession prosperous, if not proper. 

She paused before a mirror, carefully adjusting her fleecy 
hair, for even in pressing emergencies such women never forget 
their personal appearance. This done, she pondered a moment 
and then pulled the bell. A most immaculate colored gentleman 
answered her summons and, bowing low, stood waiting her 
will. 

“ Henry, is it not tune that your master were here? The 
train is certainly due; are you sure he will come? AVhat did ho 
telegraph you?” 

“That he woidd arrive on the one o’clock express, madame; 
and he never fails.” 

“Very well. If he does not appear soon, Henry, you must 
go and inquire if the train has been delayed, and if so, telegraph. 
My business is imperative.” 

The well trained servant bowed again, and, at a signal from 
her, withdrew. Left alone, she continued her silent march, 
listening ever, until at length a quick footstep came down the 
passage. Flinging herself into the depths of a great easy chair, 
she assumed an air of listless indifference, and so greeted the 
new comer. 

“Gracious heavens, Cora! what brings you here like this? 
T thought you had sailed j and was regretting it by this time*,” 


56 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


He hurried to her side and she half rose to return his caress. 
Then sinking back, she surveyed him with a lazy half smile. 

“ I wonder if you are glad to see me, Lucian, my angel; you are 
such a hypocrite.” 

He laughed lightly, and threw himself into a seat near her. 
“ Candid Cora, you are not a hypocrite, — with me,” and he 
looked admiringly yet impatiently at her. # “Come,” he said, at 
length, as she continued to tap her slender foot lazily, and to re- 
gard him silently through half closed lashes: “what does it all 
mean? Fairest of women, tell me.” 

“It means, Mon Brave , that I did not sail in the Golden Bose; 
I only sent my hat and veil.” 

“Wonderful woman! Well, thereby hangs a tale, and I 
listen.” 

«“I came back to see — ” 

“Not old Verage?” he interrupted, maliciously. 

“No, hush: he saw me safely on board the Golden Rose — 
very gallant of him, wasn’t it?” 

“Rather — yes, considering. And if I did not know Miss 
Cora Weston so very well, I should be surprised at all this mys- 
tery; as it is, I simply wait to be enlightened.” 

“And enlightened you shall be, monsieur.” 

She threw off her air of listlessness and arose, crossing over 
and Standing before him, leaning upon a highbacked chair, and 
speaking rapidly. 

Lucian, meantime, produced a cigar case, lit a weed, and as- 
suming the altitude and manner she had just abandoned, bade 
her proceed. 

“You see,” she said, “I did not like the idea of quitting the 
country because of a little difference of opinion between myself 
an old idiot like Verage,” 


A SHREWD SCHEME. 


57 


“A difference of some thousands out of pocket for him; well, 
go on.” 

“Just so, comrade mine. Well, fortune favored me; she 
generally does. I learned, at almost the last moment, that a 
lady of my acquaintance had taken passage in the same vessel. 
I interviewed her, and found her in the condition of the good 
people in novels who have seen better days; her exchequer was 
at low ebb, and, like myself, she had reasons which induced her 
to emigrate. I did not inquire into these, having no reason to 
doubt the statement, but I accompanied her on board the Golden 
Bose , bade her a fond farewell, and bequeathed to her my street 
apparel and a trifling sum of old V erage’s money. In exchange, 
I donned her bonnet and veil, and adopted her rather awkward 
gait, and so had the satisfaction of seeing, on my return to terra 
firma, old Verage gazing enraptured after my Paris bonnet and 
floating veil as it disappeared with my friend, outward bound.” 

“Well, what next? All the world, your world, supposes 
you now upon the briny deep. Old Verage will be rejoiced to 
find you here in the city; what then?” 

“I think he will,” said Cora, dryly, “when he does find me. 
I did not come here in the dark to advertise my arrival.” 

“Bravo, Cora,” he patted her hands softly; “wise Cora. 
You are a credit to your friends, indeed you arej my blonde 
beauty.” 

She laughed softly; — a kittenish, purring laugh. 

“Well, Lucian, time flies and I throw myself on your mercy. 
Recommend me to some nice quiet retreat, not too far from the 
city, but at a safe distance; put mein a carriage, at daylight, 
which will carry me out to some by-station, where I can take 
passage behind the iron horse, unmolested, for fresh fields and 
pastures new.” 


58 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Davlin pondered a moment as if he had not already decided 
upon his course of action. He knew the woman he had to deal 
with, and shaped his words accordingly. “A retired spot, — 
let me see. I wonder, by Jove/ 7 — brightening suddenly, “I 
think I have the right thing for you.” 

“Well, when Lucian Davlin ‘thinks’ he has a point, that 
point is gained ; proceed, man of might.” 

“You see,” began Lucian, in a business-like tone, “I took 
one of my ‘skips’ for change of scene and recreation.” 

“And safe quarters until the wind shifted,” interrupted she. 
“Well, go on.” 

He laughed softly, “Even so. We children of chance do 
need to take flying' trips sometimes, but I did not set out. for 
Europe, Cora mine, and I wore my own clothes home.” 

“Bravo! But old Verage don’t want you, and the wind has 
changed ; proceed.” 

“Well, as usual, I found myself in luck, and if I had been 
a nice young widow, might have taken Summer quarters in the 
snug little village of Bellair.” 

“Not being a widow, relate your experience as a rusticating 
gentleman at large. You excite my curiosity.” 

Lucian removed his cigar from between his lips, and lazily 
contemplated his fair vis a vis. 

“ How long a time must elapse before the most magnificent 
of blondes will think it fitting, safe, and,” with a slight smile, 
“expedient to return and resume her sovereignty here, on this 
hearth, and,” striking his breast theatrically, “in this heart?” 

The “most magnificent of blondes” looked first, approvingly, 
at her image displayed in the full length mirror opposite, then 
soolly at her interrogator. 

“ Hum ! that depends. The lady you so flatter can’t abide 


A SHREWD SCHEME. 


59 


dullness and inaction, and too much stupidity might overcome 
her natural timidity, in which case even my ardent old pursuer 
could not scare me into submission and banishment. If I could 
only find an occupation, now, for my — ” 

“ Peculiar talents,” he suggested; “that’s just the point. 
And now, I wonder if you wouldn’t make a remarkably charm- 
ing young widow ?” 

“So you have an idea, then, Lucian? Just toss me a bunch of 
those cigarettes, please, — thank you. Now a light ; and now, 
if it’s not asking too much, will you proceed to explain yourself, 
and tell me what fortunate being you desire me, in the character 
of a fair widow, to besiege? What lie is like ; and why?” 

“Admirable Cora! what other woman could smoke a cigarette 
with such a perfect air of doing the proper thing ; so much of 
Spanish grace.” 

“And so much genuine enjoyment,” she added, comfortably. 
“ Smoke is my poetry, Lucian. When far from my gaze, and I 
desire to call up your most superb image, I can do so much more 
comfortably and satisfactorily inspired by my odorous little 
Perique.” 

“Blessed Perique! Cora shall have them always. But back 
to my widow; an absence of six months, perhaps, would be a 
judicious thing just now, you think?” 

“More would be safer,” she smiled, “if the Peri can keep 
aloof from Paradise so long.” 

“ How would the Peri fancy taking up her permanent abode 
outside the walls of Paradise?” 

She removed the fragrant gilded cigar in miniature from 
between two rosy, pursed-up lips, and surveyed him in mute 
astonishment, 

“Provided,” he proceeded, coolly, “provided she found a 


60 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


country home, bank account, and equipage to her liking, with 
everything her own way, and ample opportunities for trips to 
Paradise, making visits to her brother and her city friends — 
and a fine prospect of soon becoming sole possessor of said coun- 
try mansion, bank stock, etc. ?” 

She placed the tiny weed once more between her lips, and 
seeding up perfumed, curling little volumes of smoke, settled 
herself more comfortably and said, nonchalantly, “ That depends ; 
further particulars, please.” 

It was wonderful how these two understood each other. She 
knew that he had for her a plan fully matured, and wasting no 
time in needless questionings, waited t r near the gist of the whole 
matter, assured from past experience that he would suggest noth- 
ing that would be an undertaking unworthy of her talent, and 
he knew that she would weigh his suggestions while they were 
being made, and be ready with her decision at the close. 

Long had they plotted and prospered together, these two 
Bohemians of most maleyolent type; and successfully and oft 
played into each other’s hands. Never yet had the good fortune 
of the one been devoid of profit to the other; knowing this, each 
felt safe in accepting, unquestioned, the suggestions of the other : 
and because of this, she felt assured now that, in this present 
scheme, there was something to be gained for him as well as her- 
self. 

When the looker-on wonders idly at the strength of ties such 
as those which bound together these two, and the length of their 
duration, he has never considered their nature — the similarity of 
tastes, similarity of pursuits, and the crowning fact of the mutual 
benefit derived from such association. 

Find a man who lives by successful manipulations of the 
hand-book of chance, and who bows to the deity of three aces; 


61 


A SHREWD SCHEME. 

who finds victims in fortified places, and whose most hazard- 
ous scheme is surest of success ; who walks abroad the admired 
of his contemporaries, who envy him his position as fortune’s 
favorite in proportion as they ply their own similar trade near 
the foot of the ladder of chance; who shows to men the dress 
and manner of a gentleman, and to the angels the heart of a 
fiend — and you will find that man aided and abetted, upheld 
and applauded, by a woman, his fitting companion by nature or 
education. She is unscrupulous as he, daring as he, finding 
him victims that his arm could not reach; plying the finer 
branch of a dangerous but profitable trade; sharing his pros- 
perity, rescuing from adversity; valued because necessary, and 
knowing her value therefore fearing no rival. 

Cora was beautiful in Da vl in’s eyes, and secure in his affections, 
because she was valuable, even necessary, to him. He cared for 
her because in so doing he was caring for himself, and placing 
any “card” in her hands was only the surest means of enlarging 
his own pack. While she, for whether a woman is good or bad she 
is ever the slave of her own heart, recognizing the fact of the 
mutual benefit resulting from their comradeship, and improving, 
in her character of a woman of the world, every opportunity to 
profit by him, yet she saw in him the one man who possessed her 
love. Though the life she. had led had worn out all the roman- 
tic tendencies of her nature, and had turned the “ languishing of 
her eye” into sharp glances in the direction of the main chance, 
still she lavished upon him the best of her heart, and held his 
interest ever the equal of her own. After the manner of such, 
they were loyal to each other. 

“Then,” pursued Lucian, “listen, and a tale I will unfold.” 

In his own way, he proceeded to describe the intended victim ; 
his home, his wealth, his state of solitude, together with the facts 


62 


MADELINE P4^NE. 


he had gathered up here and there relative to his leading char- 
acteristics and weaknesses, whereby he might be successfully 
manipulated by skilled hands. The boldness of his plan made 
even Cora start, and instead of her usually ready decision and 
answer, she favored him with a wondering, thoughtful stare. 

“You see,” concluded Lucian, “he can’t live forever at the 
worst, and the estate is a handsome one. You could easily make 
yourself queen absolute of the situation, and go and come at 
your own sweet will. I think as a good brother I should be a 
magnificent success, and an ornament to your country mansion 
in the lazy Summer.” 

“ And if I don’t approve of the speculation after a trial, I can 
commit suicide or vanish,” Cora said, medltatingly. 

“Just so,” laughed he; “and take the spoons.” 

“You are sure there are no incumbrances; perfectly sure of 
that?” she questioned. 

“Perfectly sure. There was a step-daughter, but she ran 
away with some foreigner ;” here he smiled, and veiled his eyes, 
~ lest she should read aright their expression. “ He would not give 
her a penny, or a crust of bread, were she to return. He hated 
her from her earliest day; but she is not likely to reappear in 
any case.” 

“If she should, you might marry her, you know,” she sug- 
gested, maliciously. 

“So I might,” he said, shutting his eyes again; “and we 
would all settle down into respectable members of society — charm- 
ing picture. But, jesting aside, how' do you like the prospect?” 

She tossed away her cigarette and, rising, paced the room in 
silence for a few moments. 

Lucian whistled, softly, a few bars from a favorite opera; 
then lighted a fresh cigar, and puffed away, leaning lazily back 
and watching her face furtively out of half closed eyes, 


A SHREWD SCHEME. 


63 


“I think/’ she said, resuming her seat, “ that I will take a 
nearer view of this ‘prospect’ of yours.” 

He nodded his head and Waited for her to proceed. 

“I think the role of widow might interest me for a little 
time, so I’ll take myself and my ‘delicate constitution’ down to 
your promising haven of rest. I’ll ‘view the landscape o’er/ 
and the prospect of an opportunity for a little sharp practice will 
make my banishment more endurable ; of course, my resignation 
will increase as the situation becomes more interesting.” 

“Which it is sure to do,” he said, rising quickly and crossing 
to the window. “ The thing is as good as done ; you always ac- 
complish what you undertake; and you’ll find the game worth 
the powder. The fact is, Cora,” he continued, seriously, “ you 
and I have engineered so many delicate little affairs successfully, 
here in the city, that, as a combination, we are pretty well known 
just now; too well, in fact, for our own ease and comfort. 
Your supposed trip to Europe was a lucky thing, and will throw 
all officiously-interested ones off your track completely. I shall 
limit my operations here for a time; shall make this merely head- 
quarters, in fact, and ‘prospect/ like yourself, in fresh fields. 
And now, it being nearly morning, and quite necessary that you 
should be on your victorious march, let us consider final ways 
and means.” 

In a concise, business-like way, fhey arranged and discussed, 
the result of the whole being briefly (his: 

Cora would drive at early dawn to a suburban station, and 
from thence go by rail to a village midway between the city and 
her final destination ; and there await her luggage, and the ar- 
rival of Lucian. He would join her shortly, and proceed with 
her to Bellair, in his character of brother; see her comfortably 
settled, and leave her to her new undertaking. 


64 


^MADELINE PAYNE. 


And thus it was that in the gray of morning a veiled lady, 
sweet- voiced and elegant in manner, stepped from a close car- 
riage at a little way-side station, and sped away at the heels of 
the iron horse. 

And thus it was that Lucian Davlin, reappearing in Bellair 
and listening in well simulated surprise to the story of the sud- 
den disappearance of John Arthur’s step-daughter, effectually 
put to flight any idea — forming in the brains of the few who 
knew, or conjectured, that these two had met — that he had aught 
to do with her mysterious flitting. In truth, none save old 
Hagar knew of the frequency of their clandestine meetings, and 
she never breathed to others the thoughts and suspicions that 
haunted her brain. 

And thus it was, too, that Com Weston, in her new role of 
languishing widow, secluded carefully from the vulgar gaze, 
heard never a word of Madeline’s flight. And when, later, the 
fact was revealed to her, none save old Hagar could have named 
the precise date of the event. So even wise Cora never con- 
nected the fate of the unfortunate girl with the doings of Lucian 
Davlin. 


CHAPTER VL 

A WARNING. 

Early morning in the great city, but the buzz and clamor were 
fairly under way, and the streets as full of busy, pushing, elbow- 
ing life as if night and silence had never rested above the tall 
roofs and chimney pots. 

With the rattle of the first cart wheel on the pavement, 


A WARNING. 


65 


Madeline had started broad awake. As the din increased, and 
sleep refused to return to the startled senses, all unused to these 
city sounds, she arose, and completing her toilet with some haste, 
seated herself at her window to look out upon the scene so new 
to her. 

What a world of strange emotions passing and repassing be- 
neath her eye! What hopes and fears; what carelessness and 
heartache! How they hurried to and fro, each apparently in- 
tent upon his own thoughts and purposes. 

She gazed down until her vision wearied of the motley, ever- 
changing, yet ever the same crowd; and then she reclined in the 
downy depths of a great easy chair, closed her eyes, and thought 
•of Lucian. After all, what meaning had this restless moving 
throng for her? Only one; Lucian. What was this surging 
sea of humanity to her save that, because of its roar and clamor, 
they two were made more isolated, therefore nearer to each other? 

The morning wore away, and she began to realize how very 
soon she should be with her hero, and then no more of separa- 
tion. Her heart bounded at this thought. 

Some one tapped softly at her door. She opened it quickly, 
thinking only of Lucian. It was not Lucian, however, but a 
veiled woman who stepped within the room, closing the door as 
she came. 

Madeline fell back a pace, and gazed at the intruder with a 
look of startled inquiry which was, however, free from fear. 
She had not thought of it before, it flashed across her mind now 
that this fact was odd; but in all her morning’s ruminations, 
she had not once thought of the mysterious stranger of the rail- 
way episode. Yet now -the first words that took shape in her 
mind, at the entrance of this unexpected visitor, were “ Clarence 
Vaughan, M. D.” She almost spoke them. 


66 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


With a quick, graceful movement, the stranger removed the 
shrouding veil; and Madeline gazed wonderingly on the loveli- 
est face she had ever seen or dreamed of,. It was a pure, pale 
face, lighted by lustrous dark eyes, crowned by waving masses 
of dark silky hair; exquisitely molded features, upon which 
there rested an expression of mingled weariness and resignation, 
the look of 

“A soul whose experience 
Has paralyzed bliss." 

One could imagine such a woman lifting to her lips the full 
goblet of life’s sparkling elixir, and putting it away with her 
own hand, lest its intoxicating richness should shut from her 
senses the fragrance of Spring violets, and dim her vision of 
the world beyond. 

They formed a decided contrast, these two, standing face to 
face. j* 

One, with the calm that comes only when storm clouds have 
swept athwart life’s sky, leaving behind marks of their desolat- 
ing progress, but leaving, too, calm after tempest ; after restless- 
ness, repose. 

The other, stretching out her hand like a pleased child to woo 
the purple lightning from the distance, buoyant with bright 
hopes, with nothing on brow or lip to indicate how that proud 
head would bear itself after it had been bowed before the passing 
storm. 

(( Pardon me,” said the lady, in a sweet contralto. “I think 
I am not mistaken; this is the young lady who arrived last 
evening, and is registered,” — she looked full in ihe girl s eyes— - 
“as Miss Weir?” 

Madeline’s eyes drooped before that searching gaze, but she 
answered, simply: “Yes.” 



“I have not yet introduced myself. 


Here is my card.” 


page 68, 

67 




68 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“You are naturally much astonished to see me here, and my 
errand is a delicate one. Since I have seen you, however, I 
have lost every doubt I may have entertained as to the propriety 
of mv visit. Will you trust me so far as to answer a few simple 
questions ?” 

The words of the stranger had put to flight the first idea 
formed in her mind, namely, that this visit was a mistake. It 
was intended for her, and now, who had instigated it? She 
looked up into the face of her visitor and said, with her charac- 
teristic frankness of speech : 

“Who sent you to me ?” 

The abruptness of the question caused the stranger to smile. 

“One who is the soul of honor and the friend of all woman- 
kind,” she said, with a soft light in her eyes. 

Madeline’s eyes still searched her face. “And his name is 
that,” she said, putting the card of Clarence Vaughan upon the 
table between them. 

“Yes; and this reminds me, I have not yet introduced my- 
self. Here is my ca v d.” 

She placed in the hand of Madeline a delicate bit of cardboard 
bearing the name, “Olive Girard.” 

Silence fell between them for a moment, and then Olive Girard 
spoke. 

“Won’t you ask me to be seated, and hear what I wish to say, 
Miss Weir?” 

She hesitated over, the name, and Madeline, perceiving it, 
said : _ 

“You think Weir is not mv name?” 

“Frankly, I do,” smiled Mrs. Girard; “but just now the 
name matters little. Pardon me, but I am more interested in 
vour face than your name. I came here because it seemed my 


A WARNING. 


69 


duty, and to oblige a friend ; now I wish to serve you for your 
own sake, to be your friend, if you wilblet me.” 

Still Madeline’s brain kept thinking, thinking ; and she put 
her questions rather as commentaries on her own thoughts than 
as her share in a conversation. 

“Why did Mr. Vaughan send you to me?” 

They had seated themselves, at a sign from Madeline, and 
Mrs. Girard drew her chair nearer to the girl as she answered : 

“Because he feared for you.” 

“Because he feared for me!” Madeline’s face flushed hotly; 
“feared what?” 

“ He feared,” said Olive Girard, turning her face full upon 
her questioner, “what I feel assured is the truth, having seen 
you — simply that you do not know aright the man in whose com- 
pany you came to this place.” 

Madeline turned her eyes upon her guest and the blood went 
slowly out of her face, but she made no reply, and Mrs. Girard 
continued : 

“I will ask you once more, before I proceed further, do you 
object to answering a few questions? Of course I am willing 
to be likewise interrogated,” she added, smiling. 

Over the girl’s face a look was creeping that Aunt Hagar, 
seeing, could readily have interpreted. She nodded her head, 
and said briefly: “Go on.” 

“ First, then,” said her interrogator, “are you entirely without 
friends in this city? Except, of course,” she added, quickly, 
“your escort of last night.” 

“Yes.” Madeline’s countenance never altered, and she kept 
her eves fully fixed on her companion’s face. 

“ Are — are you without parents or guardian?” 

“ Yes,” 


70 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


‘‘As I thought; and now,- pardon the seeming impertinence 
of this question, did you come here as the companion of the man 
who was your escort, or did mere accident put you under his 
charge?” 

“The ‘accident’ that put me in the charge of Mr. Davlin was 
— myself,” said the girl, in a full, clear voice. “And he is my 
only guardian, and wili be.” 

Olive Girard pushed back her chair, and rising, came, and 
stood before her, with outstretched hand and pleading, compas- 
sionate eyes. 

“Just as I feared,” she sighed; “the very worst. My poor 
child, do you know the character and occupation of this man?” 

Madeline sprang to her feet, and putting one nervous little 
hand upon the back of the chair she had occupied, moved back 
a pace, and said, in a low, set tone: 

“If you have come to say aught against Lucian Davlin, you 
will find no listener here. I am satisfied with him, and trust 
him fully. When I desire to know more of his ‘character and 
occupation,’ I can learn it from his own lips. What warrant 
had that man,” pointing to Clarence Vaughan’s card, “for dog- 
ging me here, and then sending you to attempt to poison my 
mind against my best friend? I tell you, I will not listen !” 

A bright spot burned on either cheek, and the little hand 
resting on the chair back clinched itself tighter. 

Olive Girard drew a step nearer the now angry girl, and 
searched her face with grave eyes. 

“ If I said you were standing on the verge of a horrible preci- 
pice, that your life and soul were in danger, would you listen 
then ?” she asked, sternly. 

“No,” said Madeline, doggedly, drawing farther away as she 
spoke; “not unless I saw the danger with my own eyes. And 


A WARNING. 


71 


in that case I should not need your warning/’ she added, dryly. 

“And when your own eyes see the danger, it will be too late 
to avert it,” said Olive, bitterly. “ I know your feeling at this 
moment, and I know the heartache sure to follow your rashness. 
What are you , and what do you hope or expect to be, to the man 
you call Lucian Davlin f” She spoke his name as if it left the 
taste of poison in her mouth. 

The girl’s head dropped until it rested on the hands clasped 
upon the chair before her; cold fingers seemed clutched upon her 
heart. Across her memory came trooping all his love words of 
the past, and among them, — she remembered it now for the first 
time, — among them all, the word wife had never once been uttered. 
In that moment, a thought new and terrible possessed her 
soul ; a new and baleful light seemed shining upon the pictures 
of the past, imparting to each a shameful, terrible meaning. 
She uttered a low moan like that of some wounded animal, 
and suddenly uplifting her head, turned upon Olive Girard a 
face in which passion and a vague terror were strangely mingled. 

“ What are you saying? What are you daring to say tome!” 
she ejaculated, in tones half angry, half terror-stricken, wholly 
pitiful. “What horrible thing are you trying to torture me 
with ?” 

She would have spoken in indignation, but the new thought 
in her heart frightened the wrath from her voice. She dared 
not say “I am to be his wife,” with these forebodings whisper- 
ing darkly within her. 

She turned away from the one who had conjured up these 
spectres, and throwing herself upon a couch, buried her face in the 
cushions, and remained in this attitude while Olive answered her 
and for long moments after; moments that seemed hours to both. 

Olive’s eyes were full of pity, and her tone was very gentle. 


72 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Her woman’s quick instinct assured her that words of comfort 
were of no avail in this first moment of bitter awakening. She 
knew that it were better to say all that she deemed it her duty 
to say, now, while her hearer was passive; and stepping nearer 
the couch, she said : 

“Dr. Vaughan, who saw you in the company of a man so 
well known to him that to see a young girl in his society he 
knew could mean no good, came to me this, morning with a 
brief account of your meeting of last night. He is too good a 
physiognomist not to have discovered, readily, that you were 
not such a woman as could receive no contamination from such 
as Lucian Davlin. He feared for you, believing you to be 
another victim of his treachery. Your coming to this hotel 
assured him 'that you were safe for the time, at least; and this 
being a subject so delicate that he, a stranger, feared to approach 
you with it, he desired me to come to you, and, in ease his fears 
were well founded, to save you if I could. My poor, poor 
child! you have cast yourself upon the protection of a profes- 
sional gambler; a man whose name has been associated for 
years with that of a notorious and handsome adventuress. If 
he has any fear or regard for anything, it is for her; and your 
very life would be worth little could she know you as her rival. 
Judge if such a man can have intentions that are honorable, 
where a young, lovely and unsophisticated girl like yourself is 
concerned.” 

She paused here, but Madeline never stirred. 

‘“Come with me,” continued Olive, drawing a step nearer the 
motionless girl; “accept me as your protector, for the present, 
at least. Believe me, I know what you are suffering now, and 
near at hand you will find that which will aid you to forget 
this man.” 


A WARNING. 


73 


Madeline slowly raised herself to a sitting posture and turned 
towards the speaker a face colorless as if dead, but with never 
a trace of a tear. Her eyes were unnaturally bright, and her 
lips were compressed, as if she had made, and was strong to 
keep, some dark resolve. 

“ What is it that I am to find?” she said, in a low, intense 
tone. 

“A girl, young as you, and once as beautiful,” replied Olive, 
sadly, “who is dying of a broken heart, and her destroyer is 
Lucian Davlin.” 

Madeline gazed at her absently for a moment. “1 suppose I 
had ought to hate you,” she said, wearily; “you have made my 
life very black. Lucian Davlin will soon be here, — will you 
please go?” 

“Surely you are going with me?” said Olive, in amaze. 

“No.” 

“You doubt me? Oh, I have not made you feel your dan- 
ger! You think I am an impostor!” 

“No,” said the girl, in the same quiet tone : “ something here,” 
putting her hand upon her bosom, “tells me that you are sincere. 
My own heart has abandoned me; it will not let me doubt you, 
much as I wish to. I cannot thank you for making my heart 
ache,— ^please go.” 

Still with that air of unnatural calm, she arose and walked to 
the window. 

Of the two, Olive Girard was by far the more agitated. “Teli 
me,” she said, in eager entreaty; “oh, tell me, yon are not going 
with him f” 

Madeline turned sharply around. “ 1 shall not add myself 
to the list of his victims,” she said, briefly. 

And then the two gazed at each other in silence for a moment. 


74 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“This is madness/’ said Olive, at length. “ What rash thing 
do you meditate? I will not leave you to face this man alone; 
I dare not do it.” 

Madeline came from the window and stood directly before 
her. “I am not the weak child you think me. You can do 
nothing but harm by remaining here. I will meet Lucian 
Davlin, and part with him in my own way,” she said, between 
her teeth. 

Olive saw* in the set face, and stern eye, that she was indeed 
dealing, with a character stubborn as death, and devoid of all 
fear. She dreaded to leave her thus, but felt assured that she 
could do nothing else. 

“Will you come to me afterward?” she asked. “You hare 
no friends here, you tell me, and you need a friend now’ 
Promise me this and I will go.” 

“Thank you,” said the girl, wearily; “at least I promise to 
go to no one else ; good-by.” 

Turning away, she resumed her position at the window, and 
never looked once at Olive after that. * 

“ T will write my address on this card,” said Olive. She did 
so ; then turning on the girl a look full of pitying tenderness, 
said : “ I need not tell you to be brave ; I should rather bid you 
be cautious. Remember, your life is worth more than the love 
and loss of such a man. Put this behind you, and come to me 
soon, believing that you are not friendless.” 

She lowered her veil and, casting one more wistful glance at 
the silent figure by the window, went out and closed the door 
softly. 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


75 


CHAPTER YH. 

A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 

% 

It is a fortunate provision of Providence that calamity comes 
upon us, in most cases, with a force so sudden and overwhelming 
that it is rather seen than felt. As we realize the full torture of 
an ugly wound, not when the blow is struck, but after the 
whole system has been made to languish under its effects, so a 
blow struck at the heart can not make itself fully felt while the 
mind is still unable to picture what the future will be like now 
that the grief has come. We only taste our bitterest grief when 
the mind has shaken itself aloof from the present woe, to travel 
forward and question what the future can hold for us, now that 
our life is bereft of this treasure. 

Madeline’s condition, after the departure of Olive Girard, was 
an exponent of this truth. Fast and hard worked her thoughts, 
but they only encountered the ills of the present, and never 
glanced beyond. 

She had set her lover aloft as her ideal, the embodiment of 
truth, honor, and manhood. He had fallen. Truth, honor, 
manhood, had passed out of existence for her. And she had 
loved him so well ! She loved him even yet. 

The thought brought with it a pang of terror, and as if con- 
jured up by it, the scenes of the day previous marshalled them- 
selves again for review. Could it be possible? Was it only 
yesterday that she listened to his tender love words, beneath the 
old tree in Oakley woods ? Only yesterday that her step-father 
was revealed in all his vileness, — his plots, his hopes, his fears. 


76 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Her mother’s sad life laid bare before her ; Aunt Hagar’s story ; 
her defiance of the two men at Oakley; her flight; Clarence 
Vaughan; the strange, great city; Olive Girard; and now — 
now, jusha dead blank, with no outlook, no hope. 

And was this all since yesterday? 

AVhat was it, she wondered, that made people mad? Not 
things lilve these; she was calm, very calm. She was calm ; 
too calm. If something would occur to break up this icy still- 
ness of heart, to convulse the numbed powers of feeling, and 
shock them back into life before it was too late. 

She waited patiently for the coming of her base lover, lying 
upon the soft divan, with her hands folded, and wondering if 
she would feel much different if she were dead. . , , 

When the summons came, at last, she went quietly down to 
greet the man who little dreamed that his reign in her heart 
was at an end, and that his hold upon her life was loosening 
fast. 

When Madeline entered the presence of Lucian Davlin, she 
took the initiatory step in the part she was henceforth to play. 
And she took it unhesitatingly, as if dissimulation was to her no 
new thing. Truly, necessity, emergency, is the mother of much 
besides “ invention.” Entering, she gave him her halid with 
free grace, and smiled up at him as he bade her good-morning. 

He remarked on her pale cheeks, but praised the brightness 
of her eyes, and accepted her explanation that the bustle and 
the strangeness was unusual to her, as a natural and sufficient 
reason for the pallor. 

“ You will soon grow accustomed to that,” he said, as they de- 
scended to the carriage, “and be the rosiest, fairest little woman 
on the boulevard, for I mean to drive half the men jealous by 
taking you there often,” 



“ She wondered if she would feel much different if she were dead.* 

page 76. 


77 







78 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Madeline made no reply, and they entered the carriage. 

Davlin was not surprised at her silence; he was prepared for 
a little coyness ; in fact, for some resistance, and expected to 
have occasion for the specious eloquence always at his command. 
Of course, the result would be the same, — he had no doubt of 
that, and so in silence they reached their destination. 

Up a broad flight of stairs, and then a door. Lucian rings, 
and an immaculate colored servant appears, who seems as well 
bred as an English baronet, and who expresses no surprise at 
the presence of a lady there. 

Up another flight of softly carpeted stairs, across a wide hall, 
and lo! the abode of the sybarite, the apartments of the dis- 
ciple of Chance. 

“ Welcome to your kingdom, fair queen,” says Lucian, as 
they enter. “This is your abiding place, for a time, at least, and 
T am your slave for always,” and he kneels playfully before 
her. 

Madeline turns away, and, finding it easiest to do, in her then 
state of mind, begins a careless tour of the rooms, making a 
pretense of criticism, and finding in even this slow promenade 
some relief from absolute quiet and silence. ^ 

She guarded her face lest it should display too much of that 
locked, sullen calm underneath, and replied by an occasional 
word and nod to his running comments upon the different 
articles undergoing examination. Fingering carelessly the rare 
ornaments upon a fine set of brackets, her eye rested upon an 
elegant little gold mounted pistol. She turned away quickly, 
and they passed to other things. 

Her replies became more ready, and she began questioning 
gravely about this or that, listening with child-like wonder to 
his answers, and winning him into a pleasant bantering humor. 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


79 


Finally he threw himself upon a cnair, and selecting a cigar 
proceeded to light it. 

Madeline continued to flit from picture to statuette, questioning 
with much apparent interest. At last, she paused again before 
the bracket which held the tiny toy that had for her a fascina- 
tion. 

“ What a pretty little pistol,” she said. “Is it loaded?” 

“I don’t know,” replied he, lazily. “Bring it to me; I will 
see ” 

He was inwardly wondering at her cool acceptance of the 
situation; and felt inclined to congratulate himself. Seeing her 
look at the little weapon doubtfully, he laughed and strode to 
her side, taking it in his hand. 

“It is not loaded,” he said. “Did you ever fire a pistol?” 

“No; show me how to hold it.” 

He placed it in her hand, and showed her how to manipulate 
the trigger, and to take aim. 

“I should like to see it loaded,” she said, at last. 

“And so you shall.” 

He smiled, and crossing the room took from a little inlaid box 
a handful of cartridges. Madeline watched him attentively, as 
he explained to her the operation of loading. At length ex- 
pressing herself satisfied, and declining his invitation to try and 
load it herself, she turned away. 

Davlin extracted the cartridge from the pistol, and returned it 
to its place, saying: “You might wish to practice at aiming, and 
won’t want it loaded.” 

“I shall not want such practice,” she replied. 

A rap at the door, and the servant announced that dinner was 
come. 

“I ordered our dinner here, to-day,” explained Lucian, 


80 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“thinking it would be more cosy. You may serve it, Henry,” 
to the servant. 

Dinner was accordingly served, and Lucian found occasion 
to criticise, very severely, the manner of his serving man. More 
than once, his voice took on an intolerant tone. 

Sitting opposite, Madeline saw the man, as he stood behind 
his master’s chair, dart upon him a look of hatred. Her lips 
framed a smile quite new to them; and, after dessert was placed 
upon the table and the man dismissed, she said: 

“You don’t like your servant, I judge?” 

“Oh, he’s as good as any,” replied Lucian, carelessly. “They 
are pretty much alike, and all need a setting back occasionally; — 
on general principles, you know.” 

“I suppose so,” assented Madeline, indifferently, as if the sub- 
ject had lost all interest for her. 

Slowly the afternoon wore on, moments seeming hours to the 
despairing girl. At length Lucian, finding her little inclined to 
assist him in keeping up a conversation, said : 

“l am selfish not to remember that you are very tired. I 
will leave you to solitude and repose for a little time, shall I?” 

“ If you wish,” she replied, wearily. “ I suppose I need the 
rest.” 

“Then I will look in upon some of my friends. I have al- 
most lost the run of city doings during my absence. Meantime, 
ring, for anything you may need, won’t you?” 

“I will ring;” and she looked, not at him, but at the bracket 
beyond. 

“Then good-by, little sweetheart. It is now four; I will be 
with you at six.” 

He embraced her tenderly, and went out with that debonnair 
grace which she had so loved. She looked after him with a 
hungry, hopeless longing in her eyes. 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


81 


“Oh, why does God make His foulest things the fairest?” she 
moaned. “Why did He put love in our hearts if it must turn 
our lives to ashes? Why must one be so young and yet so 
miserable? Oh, mother, mother, are all women wronged like 
us?” 

Madeline arose and commenced pacing the floor restlessly, 
nervously. She had come here with no fixed purpose, nothing 
beyond the indefinite determination to defy and thwart the man 
who had entrapped her. She had never for a moment feared 
for her safety, or doubted her ability to accomplish her object. 

A plan was now taking shape in her mind, and as she pondered, 
she extended her march, quite unthinkingly, on into the adjoining 
room, the door of which stood invitingly open. The first object 
to attract her attention was the light traveling coat which Lucian 
had worn on the previous day ; worn when he was pleading his 
suit under the trees of Oakley; and in a burst of anger, as if it 
were a part of him she was thinking of so bitterly, she seized 
and hurled it from her. As it flew across the room, something 
fell from a pocket, almost at her feet. 

She looked down at it; it was a telegram, the one, doubtless, 
that had called him back to the city the day before. A business 
matter, he had said. Into her mind flashed the words of Olive 
Girard, “a professional gambler.” She would see what this 
“business” was. Stooping, she picked up the crumpled en- 
velope, and quickly devoured its contents. 

Must see you immediately, dome by first train; am waiting at your 
quarters. Cora. 

Madeline went back to the lighter, larger room, and seating 
herself, looked about her. Again the words of Olive rung in 
her ears. 

“Cora!” she ejaculated. “He obeyed her summons, and 


82 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


brought me with him. And she was here only last night — and 
where has she gone? This must be the ‘ notorious/ the i hand- 
some.’ Ah, Lucian Davlin, this is well ; this nerves me for the 
worst! I shall not falter now. This is the first link in the chain 
that^shall yet make your life a burden.” 

She crossed the room and touched the bell. 

“Now for the first real step,” said Madeline, grimly. 

The door opened and the dark face of Henry appeared, bow- 
ing on the threshold. 

“ Come in, Henry, and close the door,” said Madeline, pleas- 
antly. “ I want you to do me a favor, if you will.” 

Henry came in, and stood waiting her order. 

“ Will you carry a note for me, Henry, and bring me back an 
answer? I want you to take it, because I feel as if I could trust 
you. You look like one who would be faithful to those who 
were kind to you.” 

“Thank you, lady; indeed I would,” said the man, in grate- 
ful tones. 

Madeline was quick to see the advantage to be gained by 
possessing the regard and confidence of this man, who must, 
necessarily, know so much that it was desirable to learn of the 
life and habits of him, between whom and herself must be waged 
a war to the very death. 

She reasoned rapidly, and as rapidly arrived at her conclu- 
sions. The first of those was, that Lucian Davlin, by his intol- 
erance and unkindness, had fitted a tool to her hand, and she, 
therefore, as a preliminary step, must propitiate and win the 
confidence of this same tool left by his master within her reach. 

“And will you carry my letter, Henry, and return with an 
answer as soon as you can? You will find the person at this 
nohr without any troubles” 


A STRUGGLE EOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


83 


“ Master ordered me to attend to your wants/’ replied the 
man, in a somewhat surly tone. 

She understood this somber inflection, and said : “ He ‘ ordered’ 
von? Yes, I see; is your master always as hard to please as to- 
day, Henry? He certainly was a little unkind.” 

“ He’s always the same, madame,” said the man, gloomily. 
Her words brought vividly before his mind’s eye the many in- 
stances of his master’s unkindness. 

“I’m sorry he is not kind to you,” said the girl, hypocritically. 
“And I don’t want you to carry this letter because he ordered 
you. I want you to do it to oblige me, Henry, and it will make 
me always your friend.” 

Ah, Henry, one resentful gleam from your eyes, as you stood 
behind the chair of your tyrant, has given to this slight girl the 
clue by which to sway you to her will. She was smiling upon 
him, and the man replied, in gratitude : 

“I’ll do anything for you, madame.” 

“Thank you, Henry. I was sure I could trust you. Will 
you get me some writing material, please?” 

Henry crossed to the handsome davenport, and found it locked. 
But when taking this precaution, Davlin overlooked the fact that 
Corn’s last giftr— a little affair intended for the convenience of 
travelers, being a combined dressing case and writing desk, the 
dividing compartment of which contained an excellent cabinet 
photograph of the lady herself, so enshrined as to be the first 
thing to greet the eyes of whosoever should open the little recep- 
tacle — was still accessible. 

Failing to open the davenport, Henry turned to this; and 
pressing upon the spring lock, exposed to the view of Madeline, 
standing near, the pictured face of Cora. Spite of his grievances, 
the sense of his duty was strong upon him, and he put himself 


84 


MADELINE PA VNE. 


between the girl and the object of her interest. Not so quickly 
but that she saw, and understood the movement. Stepping to 
iiis side, she put out her hand, saying : 

“ What an exquisite picture — Madame Cora, is it not, Henry?” 

She was looking him full in the eyes, and he answered, staring 
in astonishment the while : “ Yes, miss.” 

“She is very handsome,” mused the girl, as if to herself: “left 
just before my arrival, I think?” she added, at a venture. 

Again her eves searched his face, and again he gave a sur- 
prised assent. 

“ Do you like her, Henry?” questioned she, intent on her pur- 
pose. 

“She is just like him” he said, jerking his head grimly, while 
his voice took again a resentful tone. “She thinks a man who 
is black has no feelings.” 

He placed pen, ink and paper on the table as he answered, 
and then looked to her inquiringly. 

“ You may wait here while I write, if you will,” she said, and 
took up the pen. 

She had brought away from the G House, the two cards 

of her would-be friends, and she now consulted them before she 
asked. 

“No. 52 street; is that far, Henry?” 

“ It’s a five minutes’ walk,” he answered. “ I can go and 
come in twenty minutes, allowing time for an answer. 

“ Very good,” she said, abruptly, and wrote rapidly : 

Clarence Vavghan, 

No. 52 street. 

Sir — H aving no other friend at hand, I take you at your word. I need 
your aid, to rescue me from the power of a bad man. Will you meet 
me, with a carriage, at the south corner of this block, in one hour, and 


A. STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


85 


take me to Mrs. Girard, who has offered me a shelter ? You know the 
danger I wish to escape. Aid me “ in the name of your mother .” 

Madeline “Weir.” 

This is what she penned, and looking up she asked : “ What 
is the number of this place, Henry ?” 

“91 Empire block/’ he replied; “C street.” 

She added this, and then folding and enclosing, addressed it 
to Clarence Vaughan, M. D., etc. 

“There, Henry, take it as quickly as you can; and some day 
I will try and reward you.” 

She smiled upon him as she gave him the letter. He took it, 
bowed low, and hurried away. 

She listened until the sound of his footstep could be heard no. 
longer. Then rising quickly, she opened the receptacle that held 
-the portrait of the woman who, though unseen, was still an 
enemy. Long she gazed upon the pictured face, and when at 
last she closed the case; springing the lock with a sharp click, 
she muttered between set teeth : 

“I shall know you when I see you, madame.” 

Crossing to the pistol bracket, she took the little weapon in 
her hand, and picking up one of the cartridges left by its care- 
less owner, loaded it carefully. Having done this she placed 
the weapon in her pocket. 

She paced to and fro, to and fro; nothing would have been 
harder for her than to remain quiet then. Her eves wandered 
often to the tiny bronze clock on the marble above the grate. 

Ten. minutes; her letter was delivered, was being answered 
perhaps; — fifteen; how slowly the moments were going! — 
twenty; what if he should return, too soon? Instinctively she 
placed her hand upon the pocket holding the little pistol. 
Twenty-five minutes; what if her messenger should fail her? 


86 


Madeline Payne. 


And that card had clearly stated “ office hours three to five.’’ 
Twenty-six; oh, how slow, how slow! — twenty-seven; had the 
clock stopped? no;- — twenty-eight — nine — half an hour. 

Where was Henry ? 

She felt a giddiness creeping over her; how close the air was. 
Her nerves were at their utmost tension; another strain upon 
the sharply strung chords would overcome her. She felt this 
vaguely. If she should be baffled now ! She could take fresh 
heart, could nerve herself anew, if aid came to her, but if he 
should come she feared, in her now half frenzied condition, to 
be alone, she was so strangely nervous, so weak ! 

How plainly she saw it, the face of Clarence Vaughan. Oh, 
it ivas a good face! When she saw it again she could rest. She 
had not felt it before, but she did need rest sorely. 

Thirty-five minutes, — oh, they had been hours to her; wearv, 
weary time! 

How many a sad watcher has reckoned the flying moments as 
creeping hours, while sitting lonely, with heavy eyes, trembling 
frame, and heart almost bursting with its weight of suspense- 
waiting. 

Forty minutes— and a footstep in the passage! Her heart 
almost stopped beating. It was Henry. 

“I had to wait, as he was busy with a patient,” said lie, 
apologetically, handing her the letter she desired. 

Madeline tore open the missive with eager fingers, and read: 

Mm Madeline W.: 

Thank you for your faith in me. I will meet you at the place and time 

appointed. Do not fail me. Respectfully, ^ 

* C. Vaughan. 

She drew a long breath of relief. 

• “Thank you, Henry. Now I shall leave this place; promise 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 87 

me that you will not tell your master where I went or how. 
Will you promise ?” 

“I will, miss,” said the man, earnestly. “Is this all I can 
do?” 

“If you would be my true friend — if I might trust you, 
Henry — I would ask more of you. But I should ask you to 
work against your master. He has wronged me cruelly, and I 
need a friend who can serve me as you can quite easily. I should 
not command you as a servant, but ask you to aid me as a true 
friend, for I think your heart is whiter than his.” 

And Henry was won. Starting forward, he exclaimed: 

“He treats me as if I were a dog; and you, as if I were 
white and a gentleman! Let me be your servant, and I will 
be very faithful ; tell me what I can do.” 

“Thank you, Henry; I will trust you. To-morrow, at noon, 
call at Dr. Vaughan’s office and he will tell you where you can 
find me. Then come to me. You can serve me best by re- 
mu ning with your master, at present; and I will try, after J 
have left this place, to reward von as you deserve.” . 

“ I will obey you, mistress,” said the delighted servant. “I 
shall be glad to serve where I can hear a kind word. And I 
shall be glad to help you settle accounts with hhn. I will be 
there to-morrow,, no fear for me.” 

She turned, and put on her wrappings with a feeling of ex- 
ultation. He would come soon, smiling and triumphant, and 
she would not be there! He should fret and wonder, question 
and search, but when they met again the power should be on 
her side. 

She turned to the waiting servant, saying: “I am ready, 
Henry.” 

He opened the door as if for a princess Before Madeline 


88 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


had lifted her foot from the carpet, her eyes became riveted 
upon the open doorway. 

There, smiling and insouciant , stood I/ucian Davlin! 

Madeline stood like one in a nightmare, motionless and 
speechless. Again, and more powerfully, came over her senses 
that insidious, creeping faintness; that sickening of body and 
soul together. 

It was not the situation alone, hazardous as it certainly was, 
which filled her with this shuddering terror; it was the feeling 
that vitality had almost exhausted itself. She suddenly realized 
the meaning of the awful lethargy that seemed benumbing her 
faculties. The “last straw” was now weighing her down, and, 
standing mute and motionless she was putting forth all her will 
power to comprehend the situation, grasp and master it. 

Like a dark stone image Henry stood, his hand upon the open 
door, his eyes fastened upon the man blocking the way. 

Davlin, whose first thought had been that the open door was 
to welcome his approach, realized in an instant as he gazed upon 
Madeline, that he was about to be defied. There was no mis- 
taking the expression of the face, so white and set. He elevated 
his eyebrows in an elaborate display of astonishment. 

“ Just in time, I should say,” removing his hat with mock 
courtesy, and stepping across the threshold. “ Not going out 
without an escort, my dear? Surely not. Really, I owe a debt 
of gratitude to my friends down town, for boring me so insuffer- 
ably, else I should have missed you, I fear.” 

No answer; no change in the face or attitude of the girl before 
him. 

a CIe.se that door, \sir, and take yourself off,” he said, turning 
to Henry, 

Remembering her words, “ You can serve me best here,” 
Hes*ry bowed with unusual humility, and went out. 





90 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


«I don’t think she is afraid of him/ ” he muttered, as he went 
down the hall; “ anyhow,’ 1 won’t be far away, in case she 
needs me.” 

Lucian Davlin folded his arms with insolent grace, and lean- 
in r lazily against the closed door, gazed, with his wicked half 
smile, upon the pale girl before him. 

'Thus for a few moments they faced each other, without a 
word. At length, she broke the silence. Advancing a step, 
she looked him full in the face and said, in a calm, even tone: 

“ Open’ that door, sir, and let me pass.” 

“Phew — w — w!” he half whistled, half ejaculated, opening 
wide his insolent eyes. “How she commands us; like a little 
empress, by Jove! Might the humblest of your adorers be per- 
mitted to ask where you were going, most regal lady?” 

“ Not back to the home I left for the sake of a gambler and 
roue ,” she said, bitterly. 

“Oh,” thought he, “she. has just got her ideas awakened on 
this subject: believed me the soul of honor, and all that. Only 
a small matter this, after all.” 

“Don’t call hard names, little woman,” he said aloud. “ I’m 
not such a very bad man, after all. By the way, I shouldn’t 
have thought it exactly in your line, to order up my servant for ex- 
amination in my absence.” 

“ I am not indebted to your servant for my knowledge con- 
cerning you, sir. I wish to leave this place; stand aside and let 
me pass.” 

'The red dush had returned to her cheeks, the dangerous 
sparkle to her eyes; her courage and spirits rose in response to 
his sneering pleasantries. Her nerves were tempered like steel. 
He little dreamed of the courage, strength and power she could 
pit against him. 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


91 


He dropped one hand carelessly, and inserted it jauntily in his 
pocket. 

“ Zounds; but you look like a little tigress/’ he exclaimed, 
admiringly. “ Really, rage becomes you vastly, but it’s weari- 
some, after all, my- dear. So drop high tragedy, like a sensible 
girl, and tell me what is the meaning of this new freak.” 

“I will tell you this, sir: I shall leave this place now, and I 
wish never to see your face again. Where I go is no concern 
of yours. Why I go, I leave to your own imagination.” 

“ Bravo; what a little actress you would make! But now 
for a display of my histrionic talents. Leave this place, against 
my will, you can not; and I wish to see your face often, for 
many days to come. Where you go I must go, too; and why 
you go, is because of a prudish scruple that has no place in the 
world you and I will live in.” 

“The world you live in is not large enough for me too, Lu- 
cian Davlin. And you and I part, now and forever.” 

“Not so fast, little one,” he answered, in his softest, most per- 
suasive tone. “See, I am the same lover you pledged yourself 
to only yesterday. I adore you the. same as then; I desire to 
make you happy just the same. You have put a deep gulf be- 
tween yourself and your home; you can not go back; you 
would o'o out from here to meet a worse fate, to fall into worse 
hands. Come, dear, put off that frown.” 

He made a gesture as if to draw her to him. She sprang 
away, and placing herself at a distance, looked at him over a 
broad, low-backed chair, saying: 

“Not a step nearer me, sir, and not another word of your 
sophistry. I will not remain here. Do you understand me? 
T ic ill not /” 

Lucian dragged a chair near the door, and throwing himself 


92 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


lazily into it, surveyed the enraged girl with a look of mingled 
astonishment, amusement, and annoyance. 

‘‘Really, this is rather hard on a fellow’s patience, my lady. 
Not a step nearer the door, my dear ; and no more defiance, 
if you please. You perceive I temper my tragedy with a 
little politeness,” he added, parenthetically. “I will not 
permit you to leave me ; do you hear me ? 1 will not?” 

His tone of aggressive mockery was maddening to the 
desperate girl. It lent her a fresh, last impulse of wild, de- 
fiant energy. There was not the shadow of fear in her mind 
or heart now. The rush of outraged feeling took full posses- 
sion of her, and, for a second, deprived her of all power of 
speech or action. In another instant she stood before him, her 
eyes blazing with wrath, and in her hand, steadfast and surely 
aimed, a tiny pistol — his pistol, that he had taught her to 
load and aim not two short hours before ! 

He was not a coward, this man ; and rage at being thus 
baffled and placed at a disadvantage by his own weapon, 
drove all the mockery from his face. 

He gave a sudden bound. 

There was a flash, a sharp report, and Lucian Davlin reeled 
for a moment, his right arm hanging helpless and bleeding. 
Only for a moment, for as the girl sprang past him, he wheeled 
about, seized her with his strong left arm, and holding her 
close to him in a vice-like clutch, hissed, while the ghastly 
paleness caused by the flowing blood overspread his face : 

“ Little demon ! I will kill you before I will lose you 
now ! You — shall-— -not — esca — ” 

A deathly faintness overcame him, and he fell heavily ; 
still clasping the girl, now senseless like himself. 

Hearing the pistol shot, and almost simultaneously a heavy 



I 









94 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


fall, Henry hurried through the long passage and threw open 
the door. One glance sufficed, and then he rushed down the 
stairs in frantic haste. 

Meantime, Clarence Vaughan, punctual to the time appointed, 
had driven rapidly to the spot designated by Madeline. He 
was about to alight from the carriage, when he drew back sud- 
denly, and sat in the shadow as a man passed up the street. 

It was Lucian Davlin, and he entered the building bearing 
the number Madeline had given in her note. 

Instantly Vaughan comprehended the situation. She had 
sent for aid in this man’s absence, and his return might frustrate 
her plans. Pondering upon the best course to pursue, he de- 
scended from the carriage, and paced the length of the block. 
Turning in his promenade, his ear was greeted by a pistol shot. 
Could it come from that budding? It sounded from there cer- 
tainly. It was now five minutes past the time appointed ; could 
it be there was foul play? He paused at the foot of the stairs, 
irresolute. 

Suddenly there was a rush of feet, and Henry came flying 
down, the whites of his eves looking as if they would never re- 
sume their natural proportions. Clarence intercepted the man 
as he essayed to pass, evidently without having seen him. 

“Oh, sir! — Oh, doctor, come right up stairs, quick, sir,” he 
exclaimed. 

“Was that shot from here, my man?” inquired Doctor 
Vaughan, as he followed up the stairs. 

“Yes, sir,” hurrying on. 

“Any people in the building besides your master and the lady?” 

“No, sir; not at this time. This way, sir.” 

He threw open the door and stepped back. Entering the 
room, this is what Clarence Vaughan saw: 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


95 


Lying upon the floor in a pool of blood, the splendid form of 
Lucian Davlin, one arm dripping the red life fluid, the other 
clasping close the form of a beautiful girl. Ilis eyes were closed 
and his face pallid as the dead. The eyes of the girl were star- 
ing wide and set, her face expressing unutterable fear and hor- 
ror, every muscle rigid as if in a struggle still. One hand was 
clenched, and thrown out as if to ward off that death-like grasp, 
while the other clutched a pistol, still warm and smelling of 
powder. > 

It was the work of a monent to stop the flow of blood, and 
restore the wounded man to consciousness. But first he had re- 
moved the insensible girl from Davlin’s grasp, laid her upon a 
bed in the inner room and, removing the fatal weapon from her 
hand, instructed Henry howto apply the remedies a skilful sur- 
geon has always about him, especially in the city. 

At the first sure symptoms of slowly returning life, Doctor 
Vaughan summoned Henry to look after his master, whom he 
left, with rather unprofessional alacrity, to attend to the fair pa- 
tient in whose welfare he felt so much interest. As he bent over 
the still unconscious girl, his jace was shadowed with troubled 
thought. She was in no common faint, and feeling fully 
assured what the result would be, he almost feared to see the first 
fluttering return of life. 

At last a shudder agitated her form, and looking up with just 
a gleam of recognition, she passed into another swoon, thence 
to another. Through long weary hours she only opened her 
eyes to close them, blinded with the vision of unutterable woe; 
and so the long night wore away. 

Dr. Vaughan had given brief, stern orders, in accordance with 
which Lucian Davlin had entrusted his wound to another surgeon 
for dressing, and then, still in obedience to orders, had swallowed 


96 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


a soothing potion and betaken himself to other apartments. 

Henry had summoned a trusty nurse well known to Clarence 
Vaughan, to assist him at the bedside of Madeline. 

In the gray of morning, pallid and interesting, with his arm 
in a sling, Lucian re-appeared in the sick room. Evidently he 
had not employed all of the intervening time in slumber, for his 
course of action seemed to have been fully matured. 

“ She won’t be able to leave here for many days, I should fancy ?” 
he half inquired in a low tone, sinking languidly into a sleepy- 
hollow, commanding a view of the face of the patient, and the 
back of the physician. 

“Not alive,” was the brief but significant answer. 

“Not alive! Great heavens, doctor, don’t tell me that my 
miserable accident will cost the little girl her life!” 

“Ah ! your accident: how was that?” bending over Madeline. 

“Why, you so*,” explained Davlin, “She picked up the 
pistol, and not being acquainted with the use of fire-arms, de- 
sired to investigate under my instructions. Having loaded it, 
explaining the process bv illustration, she, being timid, begged 
me to put it up.. Laughing at„ her fear, I was about to obey, 
when moving around carelessly, my hand came in contact with 
that chair, setting the thing off. The sight of my bleeding arm 
frightened her so that I saw she was about to faint. As I caught 
her J. myself lost consciousness, and we fell together. But how 
will -he come out, doctor? tell me that; poor little girl!” 

“She will come out from this trance swoon, to die almost im- 
mediately, or to pass through a fever stage that may result fatally 
later. Her bodily condition is one of unusual prostration from 
fatigue ; and evidently, she has been sustaining some undue ex- 
citement for a considerable time.” 

“Been traveling, and pretty well tired with the journey. 


A STRUGGLE FOR MORE THAN LIFE. 


97 


That, I suppose, taken with this pistol affair — but tell me, doctor, 
what she will need, so that I may attend to it immediately.” 

“If she is living at noon,” said Dr. Vaughan, reflectively, “it 
will be out of the question to remove her from here, without 
risking her life for weeks to come. If she comes out of this, and 
you will leave her in my hands, I will, with the aid of this good 
woman,” nodding toward the nurse, “undertake to pull her 
through. It will be necessary that she have perfect quiet, and 
sees no face that might in any manner excite her, during her ill- 
ness and convalescence.” 

Davlin mused for a few moments before making answer. He 
did not care to excite remark by calling in unnecessary attend- 
ants. Dr. Vaughan he knew by reputation as a skilful phy- 
sician. As well trust him as another, he thought, and it was no 
part of his plan to let this girl die if skill could save her. 

In answer to his natural inquiry as to how the doctor was so 
speedily on the spot when needed, Henry had truthfully replied 
that he knew the medical man by sight, and that, fortunately, he 
was passing when he ran down to the street for assistance. Davlin 
was further convinced that he, Henry, knew nothing save that 
the young lady rang for him to show her out, and he, according 
to orders, had obeyed. 

“Well, sir,” Davlin said, at last, “T shall leave the lady and 
the premises entirely in your hands, as soon as the crisis has 
passed. Then, as my presence might not prove beneficial, 
while I carry this arm in a sling, at least, I will run down into 
the country for a few days. My man, here, is entirely at your 
disposal. Don’t spare any pains to pull her through safely, 
doctor. I will look in again at noon.” 

He rose and went softly out of the room, the doctor having 
answered him only by a nod of assent. 

7 


98 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Zounds, how weak I feel,” he ejaculated. “I hope the girl 
won’t die. Anyhow, I have no notion of figuring at a death- 
bed scene. So I’ll just keep myself out of the way until the 
thing is decided. Then, I’ll run down and let Cora coddle 
me up a bit. I can explain my wounded arm as the result of 
a little affair at the card-table.” 

Noon came, and slowly, slowly, stern .Death relaxed his grasp 
upon the miserable girl, for Death, like man, finds no satisfac- 
tion in claiming willing victims. Slowly the life fluttered back 
to her heart; and because Death had yielded her up, and to re- 
tain it would be to lose her life, reason forsook her. 

Under the watchful care of the skilled nurse, and the minis- 
trations of the young physician, she now lay tossing in the de- 
lirium of fever. 

Nothing worse to fear, for days at least, reported the doc- 
tor. So the afternoon train bore Lucian Davlin away from the 
city and his victim, to seek repose and diversion in the society of 
his comrade, Cora. 

“She will come out of this now, I think,” he muttered. 
“Then — Oh! I’ll tame your proud spirit yet, my lady! I 
would not give you up now for half a million.” 

And he meant it. 


CHAPTER YIIL 

THREADS OF THE FABRIC. 

What had become of Madeline Payne? 

The question went the round of the village, ’as sush questions do. 
The servants of Oakley fed upon it. They held secret con- 


THREADS OF THE FABRIC. 


99 


ferences in the kitchen, and grew loud and argumentative when 
they knew John Arthur was safely out of hearing. bore 

themselves with an air of subdued, unobservant melancholy in 
his presence, and waxed important, mysterious and unsatisfac- 
tory, when in converse with the towns folk — as was quite right 
and proper, for were they not, in the eyes of mystery hunters, 
objects of curiosity secondary only to their master himself? 

The somber-faced old housekeeper gave utterance to a doleful 
croak or two, and a more dol'eful prophecy. But after a sum- 
mons from John Arthur, and a brief interview with him in the 
closely shut sacredness of his especial den, not even the social in- 
tercourse of the kitchen and the inspiration that the prolonged 
absence of the master always lent to things below stairs, could 
beguile from her anything beyond the terse statement that “ she 
didn’t meddle with her master’s affairs,” and she “ s’posed Miss 
Madeline knew where she was.” • 

The housemaid, who read novels and was rather fond of Miss 
Payne, grieved for a very little while, but found in this “visita- 
tion of providence,” as John Arthur piously termed it, food for 
romance weaving on her own responsibility. She entertained 
Peter, the groom, coachman and general factotum, with divers 
suggestions and suppositions, each more soul harrowing than the 
last, making of poor Madeline a lay figure upon which she fitted 
all the catastrophes that had ever befallen her yellow-covered 
“heroinesses.” 

The villagers talked. It was all they could do, and their 
tongues were very busy for a time until, in fact, a fresher sensa- 
tion arrived. Nurse Hagar was viewed and interviewed ; but 
beyond sincere expression of grief at her disappearance, and the 
unvarying statement that she had not even the slightest conjecture 
as to the fate of the lost girl, nothing could be gained from her. 


Hagar was somewhat given to rather bluntly spoken opinions 
of folk^who happened to run counter to her notions in regard to 
pryin|, or, in fact, her notions on any subject. In the present 
emergency she became a veritable social hedgehog, and was soon 
left to solitude and her own devices. 

Whatever were Hagar’s opinions on the subject, she kept them 
discreetly locked within her own breast. She had received, at 
their last interview, a revelation of the depth and force of char- 
acter which lay dormant in the nature of Madeline; and she 
believed, even when she grieved most, that the girl would re- 
turn, and that when she came she would make her advent felt. 

John Arthur went to the city “to put the matter in the hands 
of the detectives,” he said. But as he most fervently hoped and 
wished that he had seen the last of his “stumbling-block,” and 
believed that of her own will she would not return, it is hardly 
to be supposed that the Secret Service was severely taxed. 

Be this as it may, the Summer days passed and he heard 
nothing of Madeline. 

Meantime, the neat little hotel that rejoiced in the name of 
the Bellair House, displayed on a fresh page of its register the 
signature of Lucian Davlin once more, and underneath it that 
of Mrs. C. Torrance. 

Mrs. C. Torrance was a blonde young widow, dressed in weeds 
of most elegant quality and latest style, with just the faintest 
hint of an approaching season of half mourning. 

Mrs. Torrance had now been an inmate of Bellair House 
some days, and she certainly had no reason to complain that her 
present outlook was not all that could be desired. Already she 
had met the object of her little masquerade, and it was charming 
to see the alacrity with which John Arthur placed himself in 


the snare set for him by these plotters, and how gracefully he 
submitted as the cords tightened around him. 

Over and over again Davlin thanked his lucky star for having 
so ordered his goings that, on his previous visit, he had never 
been brought into immediate contact with John Arthur. Over 
and again he congratulated himself that his meetings with Made- 
line had been kept their own secret, for he knew nothing of the 
watchful, jealous eyes of old Hagar. 

On a fine summer morning, or rather “ forenoon,” for Mrs. 
Torrance was a luxurious widow, and her “brother/’ Mr. 
Davlin, not at all enamored of early rising, — on a fine forenoon, 
then, the pair sat in the little hotel parlor, partaking of break- 
fast. They relished it, too, if one might judge from the occa- 
sional pretty little ejaculations, expressive of enjoyment and ap- 
preciation, that fell from the lips of the widow. 

“More cream, monsieur? Oh, but this fruit is delicious! 
And I believe there is a grand difference in the qualities of city 
and country cream.” 

“The difference in the favor of the country living, eh ? I say, 
Co., don’t you think your appetite is rather better than is ex- 
actly expected, or in order, for a widow in the second stage ot 
her grief?” 

Things were moving just now as Mr. Davlin approved, and 
he felt inclined to be jocular. 

Cora laughed merrily. Then holding up a pretty, berry- 
stained hand, she said, with mock solemnity, “That is the last, 
my greatly shocked brother. But didn’t you inform Mr. Ar- 
thur that we should accept of his kind offer to survey the woods 
and grounds of Oakley in his company, and isn’t this the day, 
and almost the hour ?” 

“So it is; I had forgotten,” 


102 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


It was not long before the pair were equipped, and saunter- 
ing slowly in the direction of the Oakley estate. 

Their morning’s enterprise was more than rewarded, and the 
cause of the widow was in a fair way to victory, when, after hav- 
ing politely refused to lunch with Mr. Arthur on that day, and 
gracefully promised to dine at Oakley on the next day but one, 
they bade adieu to that flattered and fascinated gentleman, and 
left him at the entrance of his grounds. 

Then they sauntered slowly back, keeping to the wooded path. 
Arriving at the fallen tree, the scene of so many interviews be- 
tween Madeline and Lucian, Cora seated herself on the mossy 
trunk and announced her determination to rest. 

Accordingly her escort threw himself upon the soft grass, and 
betook himself to his inevitable cigar, while he closed his eyes 
and allowed the vision of Madeline to occupy the place now 
usurped by Cora. V ery absorbing the vision must have been, for 
he gave an almost nervous start as Cora’s voice broke the still- 
ness : 4 

“Lucian, did you ever see this runaway daughter of Mr. 
Arthur’s ?” 

Lucian started unmistakably now. Then he employed him- 
self in pulling up tufts of the soft grass, pretending not to have 
heard. 

“ Lucian !” impatiently. 

“Eh, Co., what is it?” affecting a yawn. 

“ I ask, did you ever see this Madeline Payne, who ran away 
recently?” 

“I? Oh, no. Old fellow always kept her shut up too close, 
I fancy. They say she was pretty, and you are the first pretty 
woman I have seen in these parts, Co.” 

“Well, then, I’m sorry you didn’t,” quoth Cora, “for from 



More cream, Monsieur?” — page 101. 


103 



104 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


motives of delicacy I really don’t care to inquire of others, and I 
have just curiosity enough to wish to know how she looked.” 

“ Sorry I can’t enlighten you, Co. Get it all out of the old 
fellow after the joyful event.” 

“ Umpli ! Well, that business prospers, mon brave . We shall 
win, I think, as usual.” 

“ Yes; and never easier, Co.” 

“ Well, I don’t anticipate much trouble in landing our fish. 
But come along, Lucian, this romantic dell might make you for- 
get hmcheon ; it can’t have that effect on me.” 

( ora gathered her draperies about her, and prepared to quit 
Or little grove, her companion following half reluctantly. 


CHAPTER IX. 

GONE ! 

Hours that seemed days; days that seemed years; weeks that 
seemed centuries; yet they all passed, and Madeline Payne scarce 
knew, when they were actually gone, that they were not all a 
dream. # 

Life, after that first yielding of heart and brain, had been a 
delirium; then a conscious torture of mind and body; next a 
burden almost too great to bear; and then a dreamy lethargy. 

T eaven be praised for such moods ; they are saviors of life and 
reason in crises such as this through which the stricken girl was 
passing. 

Madness had wrought upon her, and her ravings had revealed 
gome otherwise dark places and blanks in her story to her guar- 


GONE ! 


105 


dian and nurses. Pain had tortured her. Death wrestled with 
her, and then, because he could inspire her with no fear of him, 
because she mocked at his terrors and wooed him, tied away. 

In his place came Life, to whom she gave no welcoming smile. 
But Life stayed, for Life is as regardless of our wishes as is 
Death. 

Forms had hovered about her; kindly voices, sweet voices, 
had murmured at her bedside. At times, an angel had held the 
cooling draught to her thirsty lips. At last these dream-creatures 
resolved themselves into realities : 

Doctor Vaughan, who had ministered to her with the solici- 
tude of a brother, the gentleness of a woman, and the goodness 
of an angel. 

Olive Girard who, leaving all other cares, was ever at her 
bedside, and who came to that place at a sacrifice of feeling, after 
a wrestling Avith pride, bringing a bitterness of memory, and a 
patient courage of heart, that the girl could not then realize. 

Henry, too, black of skin, warm of heart; Avho waited in the 
outer court, and seemed to allow himself full and free respira- 
tion only Avhen the girl A\ r as pronounced out of danger. 

Out of danger! What a misapplication of words! 

From the scene of conflict, at the last flutter of Death’s gloomy 
mantle, comes the man of medicine; watch in hand, boots a 
tiptoe, face grave but triumphant. His voice bids a subdued 
farewell to the somberness proper to a probable death-bed, coming 
up just a note higher in the scale of solemnities, as it announces, 
to the eager, trembling, waiting ones, 

“ The danger is past /” 

“ Death, the calm, the restful, the never weary; Death, the 
friend of long suffering, and world weariness and despair; Death, 
the rescuer, the sometime comforter— has gone away with empty 


106 


MADELINE TAYNE. 


arms and reluctant tread, and — Life, flushed, triumphant, seizes 
his rescued subject and flings her out into the sea of human 
lives, perchance to alight upon some tiny green islet or, likelier 
yet, to buffet about among black waters, or encounter winds and 
storms, upheld only by a half-wrecked raft or floated by a 
scarce-supporting spar. 

And she is out of danger! 

Hedged around about by sorrow, assailed by temptation, over- 
shadowed by sin. And, “the danger is over!” 

Buffeted by the waves of adversity; longing for things out of 
reach ; running after ignis fatui with eager out-stretched hands, 
and careless, hurrying feet, among pitfalls and snares. And, out 
of danger ! 

Opon your eyes, Madeline Payne; lift up your voice in 
thanksgiving; you have come back to the world. Back where 
the sun shines and the dew falls; where the flowers are shed- 
ding their perfume and song birds are making glad music; 
where men make merry and women smile; where gold shapes 
itself into palaces and fame wreathes crowns for fair and noble * 
brows; where beauty crowns valor and valor kisses the lips of 
beauty. And where the rivers sparkle in the sunlight, and, 
sometimes, yield up from their embrace cold, dripping, dead 
things, that yet bear the semblance of your kind — all that is left 
of beings that were once like you ! 

Out of danger ! 

Where want, and poverty, and— God help us!— vice, hide 
their heads in dim alleys and under smoky garret roofs. Where 
beaten mothers and starving children dare hardly aspire to the 
pure air and sunlight, the whole world for them being enshrined 
in a crust of bread. Where thieves mount upwards on ladders 
beaten from pilfered gold, and command cities and sway nations, 


gone! 


107 


Where wantonness laughs and thrives in gilded cages, and 
starves and dies in mouldy cellars. 

Out of danger! 

Madeline, the place that was almost yours, in the land of the 
unknowable, is given to another. The waters of death have 
cast you back upon the shores of the living. You are “out of 
danger 

What was to become of Madeline, now that they had brought 
her back to life? This was a question which occurred to the two 
who so kindly interested themselves in the fate of the unknown 
and headstrong girl. 

While they planned a little, as was only natural, yet they 
knew from what they had seen of their charge that, decide for 
her how they would, only so far as that decision corresponded 
with her own inclinations would she abide by it. So they left 
Madeline’s future for Madeline to decide, and found occupa- 
tion for their kindliness in ministering to her needs of the 
present. 

Once during her illness, and just as the light of reason had 
returned to the lovely hazel eyes, Lucian Davlin came. But 
he found the door of the sick chamber closely shut and closely 
guarded. The slightest shock to her nerves would be fatal 
now, — they told him. And he, having done the proper thing, 
as he termed it, and not being in any way fond of the sight of 
pain and pallor, yielded with a graceful simulation of reluc- 
tance. Having been assured that with careful nursing, there 
was nothing to fear, he deposited a check on his bankers in the 
hands of her attendants, and went away contentedly, smiling 
under his mustache at the novelty of being turned away from 
his own door. 

He went back to Bellair, to Cora, and to the web they were 


108 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


weaving, little dreaming whose hands would take up the thread 
and continue and complete what they had thus begun. 

And now the day has come for Madeline to leave the shelter 
that she hates. Pale and weak, she sits in the great easy chair 
that had served as a barrier between herself and her enemy, and 
converses with Olive Girard while they await the arrival of 
Clarence Vaughan, who is to take them from the place so dis- 
tasteful to all three. 

It has been settled that, for the present, Madeline will be the 
guest of Olive. What will come after health and strength are 
fully restored, they have not discussed much. Olive Girard and 
Doctor Vaughan had agreed that all thoughts of the future 
must bring a grief and care with them, and the mind of the in- 
valid was in no condition for painful thought and study. So 
Olive has been careful to avoid all topics that might bring her 
troubles too vividly to mind. 

But partly to divert Madeline’s mind from her own woes, 
partly to enable the unfortunate girl to feel less a stranger among 
them, she has talked to her of Doctor Vaughan, of her sister, and 
at last of herself. 

And Madeline has listened to her description of merry, lovely 
Claire Keith, and wondered what she could have in common 
with this buoyant, care-free girl, who was evidently her sister’s 
idol. Yet she found herself thinking often of Olive’s beautiful 
sister. Once, in the brief absence of Olive, she had said to 
Doctor Vaughan : 

u Mrs. Girard has told me of her sister; is she very lovely? 
And do you know her well ?” 

“ She is very fair, and sweet, and good. You will love her 
when you know her, and I think you will be friends.” 

She had not needed this ; the tell-tale eye was sufficient to re- 





“Pale and weak, she sits in the great easy chair.’”— page 108. 

109 







110 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


veal the fact that it was not, as she had at first supposed, Olive 
Girard, but the younger sister, whom Clarence Vaughan loved. 

"I mi<di have known/’ she murmured to herself. “ Olive 

© * 

Girard has the face of one whose love dream has passed away 
and lost itself in sorrow ; and he looks, full of strength and hope, 
straight into the future.” . 

As they sat together waiting, there w T as still that same con- 
trast, which you felt rather than saw, between these two. They 
might have posed as the models of Resignation and Unrest. 

The look of patient waiting was five years old upon the face 
of Olive Girard. Five years ago she had been, so happy — 
a bride, beautiful and beloved. Beautiful she was still — with 
the beauty of shadow; beloved too, but how sadly! Philip 
Girard had been convicted of a great crime, and for five long 
years had worn a felon’s garb, and borne the anguish of one set 
apart from all the world. 

The hand that had darkened the life of Olive Girard, and the 
hand that had turned the young days of the girl Madeline into 
a burden, was one and the same. 

Afterwards Madeline listened to the pathetic history of Olive’s 
sorrow. 

Sitting in that great lounging chair, Madeline looked very fair, 
very childlike. Sadly sweet were her large, deep eyes, and her 
hair, shorn while the fever raged, clustered in soft tiny rings 
about her slender, snowy neck and blue-veined temples. She 
had not been permitted to talk much during her convalescence, 
and Olive had as yet gleaned only a general outline of her story. 

“Mrs. Girard,” said the girl, resting her pale cheek in the 
palm of a thin, tiny hand, “you once said something to me about 
— about some one who had been wronged by — ” Something 
sadder than tears choked her utterance. 


gone! 


Ill 


As Olive turned her grave clear eyes away from the window, 
and fixed them in expectation upon her, Madeline’s own eyes 
fell. She sat before her benefactress with downcast lids, and 
the hateful name unuttered. 

“I know,” said Olive, aftei; a brief silence; “I referred to a 
girl now lying in the hospital. She is very young, and has been 
cruelly wronged by him. She is poor, as you may judge, and 
earned her living in the ballet at the theater. She was thrown 
from a carriage which had been furnished her by him, to carry 
her home from some rendezvous — of course the driver took care 
of himself and his horses. The poor girl was picked up and 
carried to the hospital. She was without friends and almost 
penniless. She sent to him — for him ; he returned no answer. 
She begged for help, for enough to enable her to obtain what 
was needed in her illness. Message after message was sent, and 
finally a reply came, brought by a messenger who had been 
bidden to insist upon receiving an answer. The sei’vant said 
that his master had directed him to say to any messenger who 
called, that he was out of town.” 

“The wretch! He deserves death!” 

Madeline’s eyes blazed, and she lifted her head with some of 
her olden energy. 

“ Softly, my dear: ‘Thou shalt do no murder.’” 

“It is not murder to kill a human tiger!” 

Olive made no answer. 

“Is she still very ill, this girl?” questioned Madeline. 

“She can not recover.” 

“Shall I see her?” 

“If you wish to; do you?” 

“Yes.” 

Another long pause; then Madeline glanced up at her friend, 


112 


MADELINE TAYNE. 


and said listlessly: “What do you intend to do with me?” 

“Do with you?” smiling at her. “Make you well again, 
and then try and coax you to be my other sister. Don't you 
think I need one?” 

No answer. 

“ Life has much in store for you yet, Madeline.” 

“Yes;” bitterly again. 

“You are so young.” 

“And so old.” 

“Madeline, you are too young for somber thoughts and re- 
pining.” 

“ I shall not repine.” 

“Good! You will try to forget?” 

“Impossible!” 

“No; not impossible.” 

“ I do not wish to, then.” 

“And why?” 

“Wait and see.” 

“Madeline, you will do nothing rash? You will trust me, 
and confide in me?” 

The girl raised her eyes slowly, in surprise. “ I have not so 
many friends that I can afford to lose one.” 

“Thank you, dear; then we will let the subject drop until we 
are stronger. And here is the carriage, and Doctor Vaughan.” 

Out into the sunny Summer morning went Madeline, and 
soon she was established in a lovely little room which, Olive 
said, was hers so long as she could be persuaded to occupy it. 
Here the girl rested and, ministered unto by gentle hands, she 
felt life coming back. 


And Lucian? 


BONNIE, BEWITCHING CLAIRE. 


113 


Late in the afternoon of the clay that saw Madeline depart 
from his elegant rooms, Mr. Davlin arrived, and found no one 
to deny him admittance. All the doors stood ajar, and Henry 
was flitting about with an air of putting things to rights. The 
bird had flown. 

He gained from Henry the following : “ I don’t know, sir, 
where she went. A gentleman came with a carriage, and the 
young lady and the nurse went away with him.” 

Lucian was not aware what manner of nurse Madeline had 
had in her illness. And Henry, having purposely misled him, 
enjoyed his discomfiture. 

*“ She told me to give you this, sir,” said he, handing his mas- 
ter a little package. 

Tearing off the wrapper, Lucian held in his hand the little 
pistol that had inflicted upon him the wounded arm. From its 
mouth he drew a scrap of paper, and this is what it said : 

When next we meet, I shall have other weapons! 


| CHAPTER X. 

EONNIE, BEWITCHING CLAIRE. 

Four months. We find Madeline standing in the late Autumn 
sunset, " clothed and in her right mind,” strong with the strength 
of youth, and beautiful with even more than her olden beauty. 

Fair is the prospect as seen from the grounds of Mrs. Girard’s 
suburban villa, and so, perhaps, Claire Keith is thinking. 

She is looking down the level road, and at the trees on either 
hand, decked in all their October magnificence of scarlet and 

8 __ 


114 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


brown and gold, half concealing coquettish villas and more 
stately residences. 

The eyes of Madeline were turned away from the vista of 
villas and trees, and were gazing toward the business thorough- 
fare leading into the bustle of the town ; gazing after the reced- 
ing figure of Doctor Clarence Vaughan as he cantered away from 
the villa ; gazing until a turn of the road hid him from her 
view. Then — and what did she mean by it? — she turned her 
face toward Claire with a questioning look in her eyes — the 
question came almost to her lips. But the words were re- 
pressed. 

Bonnie Clair Avas thinking of anything but Clarence Vaughan 
just then. Presently she turned a bright glance upon her com- 
panion, who was gathering clusters of the fallen maple leaves, 
with face half averted. 

“A kiss for your thoughts, beautiful blonde Madeline. I cer- 
tainly think it is ten minutes since Doctor Vaughan departed 
and silence fell upon us.” 

She bent down, and taking her companion’s head between two 
dimpled hands, pulled it back, until she could look into the 
solemn brown eyes. 

“ Come, now,” coaxingly, “what were you thinking?” 

Madeline extricated herself from Claire’s playful grasp, and 
replied with a half laugh : “ It must be mutual confession then, 
you small highwayman; how do you like my terms?” 

“Only so so,” flushing and laughing. “I was meditating the 
propriety of telling you something some day, and was thinking 
of that something just now, but — ” 

“But,” mimicked Madeline, with half-hearted playfulness; 
“what will you give me to relieve your embarrassment, and guess?” 

"You can’t/’ emphatically. 




115 






116 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Can’t I? We will see. My dear, I fear you have left a 
little corner of your heart behind you in far-away Baltimore. 
You didn’t come to pay your annual visit to your sister, quite 
heart free.” 

Anyone wishing to gain an insight into the character of Claire 
Keith might have taken a long step in that direction could he 
have witnessed her reception of this unexpected shot. She 
opened her dark eyes in comic amazement, and dropping into a 
garden chair, exclaimed, with a look of frank inquiry : 

“ Now, how ever could you guess that?” 

“Because,” said Madeline, in a constrained voice, and with all 
the laughter fading from heu eyes ; “ Because, I know the symp- 
toms.” 

“I see,” dropping her voice suddenly. “Oh, Madeline, how 
I wish you could forget that” 

“Why should I forget my love dream,” scornfully, “any 
more than you yours?” 

“Oh, Madeline; but you said you had ceased to care for him; 
that you should never mourn his loss.” 

“Mourn his loss!” turning upon Claire, fiercely. “Do you 
think it is for him I mourn my dead ; my lost happiness, my 
shattered dreams, my life made a bitter, burdensome thing. 
Mourn him? I have for Lucian Davlin but one feeling— hate!” 

Madeline, as she uttered these last words, had turned upon 
Claire a face whose fierce intensity of expression was startling. 
For a moment the two gazed into each other’s eyes — the one 
with curling lip and somber, menacing glance, the other with a 
startled face as if she read something new and to be feared, in 
the eye of her friend. 

Claire had been an inmate of her sister’s house for four weeks. 
When first she arrived, she had heard Madeline’s story, at 


BONNIE, BEWITCHING CLAIRE. 


117 


Madeline’s request, from the lips of her sister Olive, and now 
the girls were fast friends. Generous Claire had found much to 
wonder at, to pity and to love, in the story and the character of 
the unfortunate girl. Possessing a frank, sunshiny nature, and 
never having known an actual grief, she could lavish sweet sym- 
pathy to one afflicted. But she could not conceive what it 
would be like to live on when faith had perished and hope was 
a mockery. She had never known, therefore never missed, 
a father’s love and care. Indeed, he who filled the place of 
father and guardian, her mother’s second <4iusband, was all that 
a real parent could be. Claire seldom remembered that Mr. 
James Keith was not her father, and very few, except the 
family of Keith, knew that “ Miss Claire Keith, daughter of 
the rich James Keith, of Baltimore,” was in truth only a step- 
daughter. 

Mrs. Keith, whose first husband was Richard Keith, cashier 
in his wealthy cousin’s banking house, had buried that husband 
when Olive was five years old, and baby Claire scarce able to 
lisp his name. In a little less than two years she had married 
James Keith, the banker-cousin, and shortly after the marriage, 
James Keith had transferred his business interests to Baltimore, 
and there remained. 

So Claire’s baby brothers had never been told that she was 
not their “very own” sister, for of Olive they knew little, her 
marriage having separated them at first, and subsequently her 
obdurate acceptance of the consequences of that marriage. 

When the law pronounced her husband a criminal, Mr. Keith 
had commanded Olive to abandon both husband and home, and 
return to his protection. This, true-hearted Olive refused to do. 
Her step-father, enraged at her obstinacy in clinging to a man 
who had been forsaken by all the world beside, bade her choose 


118 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


between them. Either she must let the law finish its work of 
breaking Philip Girard’s heart by setting her free, or she must 
accept the consequences of remaining the wife of a criminal. 

Olive chose the latter, and thenceforth remained in her own 
lonely home, never even once visiting the place of her childhood. 

“He called my husband a criminal,” she said, “and I will 
never cross his threshold until he has had cause to withdraw 
those words.” 

Claire, however, announced her intention of visiting her sister 
whenever she chose, and she succeeded, in part, in carrying out 
her will, for every year she passed two months or more with 
Olive. , 

What a picture the two girls now made, standing face to face. 

Madeline, with her lithe grace of form, her pure pale com- 
plexion lit up by those fathomless brown eyes, and rendering 
more noticeable and beautiful the tiny rosy mouth, with its sat- 
ellite dimples; with such wee white, blue- veined hands, and such 
a clear ringing, yet marvelously sweet voice. Madeline was very 
beautiful, and Claire, as she looked at her, wondered how any 
man could bear to lose such loveliness, or have the heart to be- 
tray it; as if ever pure woman could fathom the depth of a bad 
man’s wickedness. 

Bonnie, bewitching Claire ! Never was contrast more perfect. 
A scarf, like scarlet flame, flung about her shoulders, set off the 
richness of her clear brunette skin, through which the crimson 
blood flamed in cheek and lip. Eyes, now black, now gray, 
changing, flashing, witching eyes: gray in quiet moments, dark- 
ening with mirth or sadness, anger or pain ; hair black and 
silky, rippling to the rounded, supple waist in glossy waves. 
Not. so tall as Madeline, and rounded and dimpled as a 
Hebe. 


BONNIE, BEWITCHING CLAIRE. 


119 


Bringing her will into service, Madeline banished the gloom 
from her face and said, with an attempt at gayety : 

“ f must be a terrible wet blanket when my ghost rises, Claire. 
But come, you have excited my curiosity; let us sit down. while 
you tell me more of this mighty man who has pitched his tent 
in the wilderness of your heart, to the exclusion of others who 
might aspire.” 

They seated themselves upon a rustic bench and Claire re- 
plied: 

“ Don’t anticipate too much, inquisitor; I have no acknowl- 
edged lover, but — ” blushing charmingly, “I have every reason 
to think that I am loved fondly and sincerely. He is very 
handsome, Madeline, and — but wait, I will show you his 
picture.” 

Madeline nodded, and Claire bounded away, to return 
quickly bearing in her hand a finely wrought cabinet photograph, 
encased in velvet and gilt, a la souvenaire. Placing it in her 
companion’s hand, she sat down with a little triumphant sigh, 
and gazed over Madeline’s shoulder with a proud, glad look in 
her eyes. 

“ Blonde?” suggested Madeline. 

“Yes,” eagerly; “ such lovely hair and whiskers, — perfect 
gold color; and fair as a woman.” 

“So I should judge,” and she continued to gaze. 

Blonde he was, certainly; hair thrown carelessly back from 
a brow broad and white; eyes, light, but with an expression 
that puzzled the gazer. 

“Eyes, — what color?” she said, without taking her own off 
the picture. 

“Blue; pale blue, but capable of such varying expression.” 

“Just so/’ dryly; “they look mild and saintly here, but I 


120 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


think those eyes are capable of another expression. I could 
fancy the brain behind such eyes to be — ” 

“What?” eagerly. 

“Cruel, crafty, treacherous.” 

“Oh, Madeline!” 

“There, there; I didn’t say that he,” — tapping the picture — 
“possessed these qualities. His eyes are unusual ones; did you 
ever see his mouth?” 

“What a question — through all those whiskers? no; but he 
has beautiful teeth.” 

“So have tigers. There, dear, take the picture; I am no fit 
judge, perhaps. Remember, I once knew a man with the face 
of an angel, and the heart of a fiend. Your friend is certainly 
handsome; let us hope he is equally good.” 

“He is; I know it,” asserted Claire. 

Then she told her companion how she had met him at the 
house of a friend; how he was very learned and scientific; 
very grave and dignified; and very devoted to herself. And 
how, beyond these few facts, she knew little if anything of her 
blonde hero, Edward Percy. 

Madeline received this information in a grave silence, whose 
chill affected Claire as well, and after a few moments, as if by 
mutual consent, they arose and entered the house. 

Olive Girard had been absent a week ; gone on a journey, sacred 
to her as any Meccan pilgrimage, a visit to the place of her hus- 
band’s imprisonment. Every year she made this journey, re- 
turning home in some measure comforted ; for she had seen her 
beloved. 

She came back on this evening, as the two girls were mingling 
their voices in gay bravura duets— by mutual consent they 
avoided all songs of a pathetic order, for reasons which neither 
would have cared to acknowledge. 


A GLEAM OF LIGHT. 


121 


The evening having passed away, Claire found herself in her 
chamber gazing at her lover’s pictured face and thinking how 
good, how noble, it was, and what a little goose she had been to 
allow anything Madeline had said to apply to him. A sudden 
thought occurred to her, and going to Madeline’s door, she tapped 
gently. The door opened, and Claire, raising a warning finger, 
said : 

“ Madeline, I forgot to tell you that Olive knows nothing of 
Edward Percy, and — I don’t want to tell her just yet. You 
will not mention it?” 

“No.” 

“Then good-night, and pleasant dreams.” 

“ Thank you,” in a grave voice ; “ good -night.” 

Claire returned to her room and penned a long letter to 
Edward Percy, full of sweet confidence, gayety and trustfulness. 
She reperused his last letter, said her prayers, or rather read 
them, for Claire was a staunch little church-woman, and then 
slept and dreamed bright dreams. 


CHAPTER XL 

A GLEAM OF LTGHT. 

A few moments after Claire’s door had closed for the last 
time, Madeline came cautiously from her room, her slippered 
feet making no sound on the softly carpeted floor. Passing Claire s 
door, she paused before another, opened it gently, and stood in 
Olive Girard’s bed-chamber. 

Evidently she was expected, for a light was burning softly and 


122 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Olive sat near it with a book in her hand, in an attitude of 
waiting. 

Madeline seated herself at the little table as if quite accus- 
tomed to such interviews, and said in a low tone: 

“lam so glad you came to-night; are you too tired for a long 
talk?” 

“ No; tell me all that has happened since I have been absent.” 

“ Olive, I must go away; back to Bellair,” said Madeline, 
abruptly. 

“■ Madeline, you are mad ! To Bellair ? Why, he is there 
often now.” 

“ He will not find me out, never fear. I must go to Bellair 
within the week.” 

Olive leaned forward and scanned the girl’s face closely and 
long. At last, she said: “ Madeline, what is it you meditate? 
tell me.” 

“ Going back to Bellair ; keeping an eye upon the proceed- 
ings of Mr. Arthur ; finding out what game that man and woman 
are playing there; and baffling and punishing them all.” 

She had been kept informed, through Henry, into whose hands 
had fallen a letter in Cora’s handwriting, bearing the Bellair 
postmark, and addressed to Lucian Davlin, who, so Henry said, 
“went down, on and off,” and always appeared satisfied with 
the result of his journey. 

Olive argued long against this resolution, but found it im- 
possible to dissuade Madeline. 

“It is useless,” the girl said, firmly. “I should have died 
but for the expectation of a time when I could be avenged, and 
this time I must bring about. All through my convalescence I 
have pondered how I could best avenge my mother’s wrongs, 
and my own. Now Providence has thrown together the two 



“Olive knows nothing of Edward Percy, and I don t want to tell her 
just yet.”— page 101. 


123 




men who are my enemies; why, I do not yet know, but perhaps 
it is that I may make the one a weapon against the other. And 
now I want to ask you some questions.” 

“Ask, then.” 

“ I shall touch upon a painful subject, and I will tell you why. 
After you went away, the story of your sorrow remained with 
me. So I thought the ground all over, and formed some con- 
clusions. Do you wish to hear them ?” 

Olive nodded, wearily. 

“You have told me,” said Madeline, assuming a calm, busi- 
ness-like tone, “that Lucian Davlin testified against your hus- 
band at his trial. Now the wounded man, Percy, stated that he 
recognized the man who struck him?” 

“Yes.” 

“Well, what was Davlin’s testimony?” 

“That he saw my husband stealing in the direction of the 
place where the wounded man was found, but a few moments 
before he was struck, wearing the same hat and hunting-jacket 
that the injured man testified was worn by his would-be 
assassin.” 

“Oh!” Madeline knitted her brows in thought a moment; 
then — “Was the coat and hat Mr. Girard’s?” 

“Yes; he had thrown them off in the afternoon, while the 
heat was intense, and had fallen asleep. When he awoke, he 
heard them calling him to supper. It was late in the evening 
when he remembered his coat and hat, and went back to look 
for them. He went just at the time when the man must have 
been struck, and his absence told against him in the evidence.” 

“Did he find his garments?” 

“No; they were found by others, not where he had left them, 
but nearer the scene of the crime.” 


“Ah! And who was the first to discover the injured man?” 

“ Why, I believe it was Mr. Davlin ” Olive looked more 
and more surprised at each question. “Why do you ask these 
things, Madeline?” 

The girl made a gesture of impatience. “Wait,” she said, 
“I will explain in good time.” Again she considered. “ Was 
there any ill-feeling between your husband and Davlin?” 

“ There was no open misunderstanding, but I know there was 
mutual dislike. Philip saw that Davlin was making systematic 
efforts to win money from the party, and had therefore persuaded 
one or two of his friends to give gaming little countenance. No 
doubt he kept money out of the man’s pocket.” 

“And what was the standing of that man and the victim, this 
Percy?” 

“They were much together, and Philip tells me he had some- 
times fancied that Davlin held some power over Percy. Davlin 
had won largely from him, and the man seemed much annoyed, 
but paid over the money without demur.” 

“And now, how did your husband stand tq^ard the injured 
man ?” 

“ That is the worst part of the story. They had had high 
words only that very day. Philip had been acquainted with 
Percy at school, and he knew so much that was not in his favor, 
that he was unable to conceal his real opinion of the man at all 
times. One day high words arose, and Philip uttered a threat, 
which was misconstrued, after the attack upon Percy. They 
said he threatened his life. But Percy knew that only his honor 
was meant. Davlin knew this, too; must have known it, for 
he was aware that the two had met before they came together 
with the party.” 

can not see why Lucian Davlin should be your husband’s 
enemy.” 


126 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“I cun understand that he hated Philip for the same 
reason that a thief hates the light, and Philip had balked his 
plans.” 

“True; and yet — ” 

“And yet?” inquiringly. 

“Bad as the man is, I can see but one motive that could -in- 
duce even him to swear away the liberty, almost the life, of a 
man who never wronged him.” 

“Still, he did it,” said Olive, with a weary sigh. 

“ True ; and he did it for a motive.” 

“And that motive — ” 

“Was the strongest instinct of the human race.” 

“What?” eagerly. 

“ Self-preservation.” 

Olive started up with a half cry. “Madeline, in heaven’s 
name, what do you mean !” 

“That Lucian Davlin threw suspicion upon the innocent to 
screen the guilty,” said the girl, in a low, firm tone. 

“And the gunty one, then?” 

“Himself. Do you think him too good for it?” sneeringly. 

“No, no! oh, no! But this I had never thought of — yet it 
may be true.” 

She fell into deep thought; after a time she started up. “I 
must consult a detective immediately,” she said. 

“You must do no such thing,” cried Madeline, springing to 
her feet; “why did not the detectives find this out before? Be- 
cause they have not my reasons for hunting that man down. 
I found this clue, if it be one. I claim it ; it is my right, and I 
will have it. If he is to be undone, it shall be by my hands. 
I swear it!” 

They faced each other in silence. 


A GLEAM OF LIGHT. 


127 


Slowlv Olive recalled to her countenance and voice its usual 
sweet calm, and then seated herself and talked long and earnestly 
with Madeline. 

The little bronze clock on the mantel was on the stroke of 
two when the conference ended, and Madeline retired to her 
own room, but not to sleep. She sat and thought until the dawn 
shone in at her window. 

One link was missing from the chain ; no motive had been 
discovered for an attack on Percy by Davlin. 

“But I will find it,” she muttered. Then, as a new thought 
occurred to her, she caught her breath. u Claire’s lover is named 
Percy; can it be the same? Why did not this occur to me 
sooner? Why did I not ask for his first name, and a descrip- 
tion of him? If this man and Edward Percy should be 
one and the same! Pshaw! the name is not an uncommon 
one, and it may be only a coincidence. But your face is a 
bad one, Edward Percy, and I shall know it when I see it 
again.” 

The sun was not high in the heavens ere Madeline was astir, 
for her nature was such that strong excitement rendered rest im- 
possible. Moving impatiently about the grounds, she saw a 
familiar form approaching through the shrubbery, and hastened 
to meet it. 

The black visage of Henry beamed with satisfaction as he 
made a hurried obeisance and placed in her hand a letter, 
saying : 

“ Master was preparing fora two days’ journey when this 
letter came. He threw it into his desk, and bade me lock it, 
and bring him the key. His back was turned, and I took the 
letter before I locked the desk. It was a long one, and from 
her ; I thought you might want to see it.” 


128 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Right, Henry,” said the girl, quietly, as she opened the 
letter. “ You will wait for it % ” 

“ Yes, miss; it must not be missing when he comes.” 

“ Certainly not.” 

She returned to the letter, and this is what she read: 

Oakley, October 11. 

Lucian, Mon Brave : 

I am in a fine predicament — have made a startling discovery. Mr. A 

has been sick, and the mischief is to pay; and his sickness has brought some 
ugly facts to light. 

The old man is not the sole, proprietor of the Oakley wealth. That girl 
who ran away so mysteriously, and has never been heard of, will inherit at 
his death. He can bequeath his widow nothing. Oh, to know where that 
girl is! If she is alive, my work is useless, my time is wasted. I think the 
old chap must have driven her to desperation, for he raved in his delirium 
of her and her words at parting. They must have been “ searchers ” 

Well, to add to the general interest, Miss Arthur, aged fifty or so, is here. 
She is a juvenile old maid, who has a fortune in her own right, and so must 
be cultivated. She dresses like a sixteen-year-old, and talks like a fool, 
principally aoout a certain admirer, a “ blonde demi-god ” — her words — 
named Percy. 

Something must be done ; things must be talked over. Come down and 
make love to Miss Arthur. Ber money is not entailed. 

Bring me some Periques and a box of Alexis gloves — you know the 
number. Yours in disgust, Cora Mme. Arthur. 

Madeline dropped the letter, and stood amazed. What did 
it mean ? “ Cora Mme. Arthur ! ” 

Henry stooped for the letter, and the act recalled her to 
herself. She thanked him for the service he had done her; 
told him of her intended departure; gave him some last 
instructions, and dismissed him with a kind good-by. 

“ It is time to act.” she muttered. “Good heavens! the au- 
dacity of that man and woman! She is married to my step- 



“I took the letter before I locked the desk.” — page 127. 


9 129 



130 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


father, if that letter does not lie; has married him for money, 
and is baffled there. She hoped to become his widow , aha! The 
plot thickens, indeed ! Goodness ! what a household ! That bad 
old man, the still viler woman, dangerous Lucian Davlin, and 
that funny, youthful, cross, 1 conceited spinster/ Ellen Arthur, 
who has a lover, and his name is — heaven save us — Percy! 
That name will mix itself up with my fate web, and why? 
Percy beloved of Claire; Percy who brought Philip Girard to 
his doom ; Percy the lover of a rich old maid, are ye one and 
the same? Percy! Percy! Percy! I must cultivate the Percys 
at any cost.” 

She turned and entered the house, her head bent, thinking, 
thinking, thinking. 


CHAPTER Xn. 

A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD. 

Less than a week after the events last related, and a family 
group surrounds the lunch table in the newly furnished morn- 
ing room of Oakley. 

The fair and fascinating Mrs. Torrance had accomplished the 
purpose for which she came to Bellair. 

Truly had she said, “ There is no fool like an old fool;” for 
John Arthur had been an easy victim. He had lost no time 
with his wooing, and so, a little less than two months from the 
day the fair widow came to Bellair, saw her mistress of John 
Arthur's household. 

A bridal tour was not to her taste, much to the delight of the 
bridegroom. So they set about refitting some of the fine old 


A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD. 


131 


rooms of the mansion, Cora having declared tha\ they were too 
gloomy to be inhabitable. 

As it was to her interest to keep up the deception of frank 
affection, she had been, during the two months of their honey- 
moon, a model wife. But the discovery that John Arthur could 
leave her nothing save his blessing, had now been made, and 
Cora, who was already weary of her gray-headed dupe, had been 
for a few days past less careful in her dissembling. 

For this reason John Arthur now sat with a moody brow, 
and watched her smile upon her brother with a feeling of jealous 
wrath. 

The bride had thrown off her badge of mourning, and was 
very glad to bloom out once more in azure and white and rose — 
hues which her soul loved. 

Opposite sat Miss Arthur, her sallowness carefully enameled 
over, her head adorned with an astonishing array of false braids 
and curls and frizzes, jetty in hue to match her eyes, which, so 
Cora informed Lucian in private, were “awfully beady.” 

The lady was perusing a paper, which she suddenly threw 
down, and said languidly, while she stirred her chocolate carefully. 
“Should not this be the day on which my new maid arrives?” 

Miss Arthur, from perusing many novels of the Sir Walter 
Scott school, had acquired a very stately manner of speech, and, 
so she flattered herself, a very effective one. 

“I don’t know why Miss Arthur can want a maid; her 
toilets are always perfection,” remarked Mr. Davlin to the gene- 
ral assembly. 

Whereupon, Miss Arthur blushed, giggled, and disclaimed ; 
Mrs. Arthur disappeared behind a newspaper; and Mr. Arthur 
emerged from the fog of thought that had enveloped him, to say 
brusquely : 


132 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Miss Arthur want a maid ? what’s all this ? A F rench maid 
in a country house — faugh !” 

Miss Arthur gazed across at her brother, and said, loftily, 
and somewhat unmeaningly: 

“ It is what I have chosen to do, John.” Then to Mr. Davlin, 
sweetly : “ It is so hard to dispense with a maid when you have 
been accustomed to one.” 

“I suppose so.” 

“And this one comes so well recommended, you know, by 
Mrs. Overman and Mrs. Grosvenor. You have heard of these 
ladies in society, no doubt, Mr. Daylin?” 

“Oh, certainly,” aloud, “not,” aside. 

“And the name of the maid?” pursued Lucian. 

“ Her name,” referring to the letter, “Celine Leroque— French, 
I presume.” 

“No doubt,” dryly. 

“Stop him, Miss Arthur,” interrupted Cora, prettily; “he 
will certainly ask if she is handsome, if you let him open his 
mouth again.” 

Miss Arthur glanced at him suspiciously. “ Not having seen 
her, I could not inform him,” .she said, coldly. 

. “Don’t believe my sister,” said Davlin, quietly, as he passed his 
cup. “ Cora, a little more chocolate, please. Miss Arthur, I met 
Mrs. Grosvenor at the seaside, two years ago. Her toilets were 
the marvel of the day; she protested that all credit was due her 
maid, who was a whole ‘ magazine of French art.’ I thought 
this might be the same.” 

“I most earnestly hope that it is,” pronounced Miss Arthur. 

“And I most earnestly hope it isn’t,” grumbled her brother, 
who to-day felt vicious for many reasons, and didn’t much care 
what the occasion was, so long as it gave him an excuse for 
growling. 


A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD. 


133 


At this happy stage of affairs, the door was opened and the 
housemaid announced: “An old lady, who says I am to tell 
you that her name is Hagar, wants to see you, sir,” addressing 
Mr. Arthur. 

The master of the house started, and an angry flush settled 
upon his face. “Send her away. I won’t see the old beldam. 
Send her away.” 

The girl bowed and was about to retire, when she was pushed 
from the doorway with little ceremony, and Nurse Hagar en- 
tered. Before the occupants of the room had recovered from 
their surprise, or found voice to address her, she had crossed the 
room, and paused before John Arthur. Placing a small bundle 
upon the table near him, she said : 

“Don’t think you can order me from your door, John Arthur, 
when I choose to enter it. I shall never come to you without 
good reason, and I presume you will think me a welcome mes- 
senger when you know my errand.” 

“Confound you,” said the man, angrily, yet with an uneasy 
look in his eyes; “if you must chatter to me, come into the 
library.” He arose and made a step toward the door. 

“There is no need,” said Hagar, with dignity; “my errand 
may interest others here besides yourself. I bring a message 
from the dead.” . 

John Arthur turned ashen pale and trembled violently. All 
eyes were turned upon the speaker, however, and his agitation 
was unnoticed save by Hagar. 

“Last night,” she continued, “a carriage stopped at my door 
and a woman came in, bringing that bundle in her hands.” 

She paused and seemed struggling with her feelings. 

“She said,” continued Hagar, “that she was requested to 
come by a dying girl, else she would have written the message 


134 


MADELLNE PAYNE. 


given to her. She belonged to a charitable society, and visited 
the hospital every week. She brought flowers and fruit to one 
of the patients — a girl who died asking her to write down what 
is on this card/' holding out a bit of white cardboard, “and 
not to tell the officers of the hospital her true name. She had 
entered under the name of Martha Gray, and wished to be 
buried as such. The lady promised ; the girl gave her those 
articles, and the lady kept her word, and brought the message. 
There is the bundle," in a choking voice, “and here is the 
card. That is all. Good-by, John Arthur; be happy, if you 
can. And may God’s curse fall upon all who drove her to her 
doom !’’ 

She gathered her shawl about her shoulders and, casting a 
meaning glance at Lucian Davlin, passed from the room and 
the house. 

John Arthur sat with eyes riveted upon the card before him. 
After a time he turned, and placing it in Davlin’s hand, signed 
to him to read it, and hurriedly left the room. 

The hand that had first stricken the young life, placed the evi- 
dence that the end had come in the hand that had completed what 
the first began ! 

Something of this Lucian Davlin felt, hardened as he was, for 
he knew, without waiting for the proof, that the true name of 
the girl who died in the hospital was familiar to them all. 

“Read!" ejaculated Cora, impatiently, “or give it to me." 

“Lucian’s eyes had scanned the card, and tossing it across to 
her, he pushed back his chair and walked to the window. Cora 
read for the benefit of her bewildered sister-in-law: 

Madeline Payne, at St. Mary’s Hospital, under name of Martha Gray, 
died— brain fever — bo friends but nurse, 




136 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


On the opposite side of the card was pencilled the full address 
of old Hagar, and this was all. Scant information, but it was 
enough. 

Cora pounced upon the bundle and opened it. It contained a 
little purse; a few trinkets, which any of the servants could 
identify as belonging to Madeline; the cloak she had worn the 
evening of her flight; and a pocket-handkerchief with her name 
embroidered in the corner. 

Satisfaction beamed in the face Cora turned toward Lucian, 
and away from Miss Arthur. She was mindful of the proprie- 
ties, however, and turning her eyes back upon the lady opposite, 
she pressed a dainty handkerchief to her countenance, and mur- 
mured plaintively: 

“How very, very shocking, and sad! Poor Mr. Arthur is 
quite overcome, and no wonder — that poor, sweet, young girl.” 

Across Lucian’s averted face flitted a smile of sarcasm. How 
little she knew of the truth, this fair hypocrite, and how un- 
likely she was ever to know now. If Madeline were dead, of 
what avail was any effort to break from the olden thraldom — 
for this is what had been in the mind of the scheming man. 

Cora brushed her handkerchief across her eyes and arose 
languidly. “I must go to Mr. Arthur, poor man,” she mur- 
mured, shaking out her flounces. “ He is terribly shocked, I 
fear.” 

Studiously avoiding the necessity of glancing in the direction 
of Mr. Davlin, she glided from the room. 

And so the news fell in Madeline’s home, and its inmates were 
affected no more than this: 

With Cora a renewal of tenderness toward “Dear John,” and 
an increased stateliness toward Miss Arthur and the servants. 
More deference on Miss Arthur’s part towards her brother, and 


Miss Arthur’s french maid. 


137 


less on his part toward her, as the possibility of being obliged to 
ask a small loan faded away into the past of empty purses and 
closed up coffers. 

Lucian took upon himself the responsibility of visiting the 
city and calling at St. Mary’s, there to be reassured of the fact 
that one Martha Grey had died within its walls and been buried. 


CHAPTEE XIII. 

miss Arthur’s french maid. 

After this the days flew by very much alike. 

Miss Arthur’s maid arrived, and proved indeed a treasure, 
nor was she as obnoxious to Mr. John Arthur as he had evi- 
dently intended to find her. Perhaps Celine Leroque knew by 
instinct that the master of Oakley cherished an aversion to 
F rench maids in particular ; or perhaps she was an exceptional 
French maid, and craved neither the smiles nor slyly adminis- 
tered caresses, that fell to the lot of pretty femmes de chambre , 
at least in novels. At any rate, certain it is that Miss Arthur’s 
maid manifested no desire to be seen by the inmates of the house- 
hold, and she had been domiciled for some weeks without having 
vouchsafed to either John Arthur or Lucian Davlin more than 
a fleeting glimpse of her maidship. 

Things were becoming very monotonous to some of the oc- 
cupants of the Oakley manor; very, very dull and flavorless. 

Cora was growing restless. Not that the astute lady emitted 
signs of discontent to become manifest to the uninitated, but Lu- 
eian Davlin saw# with a mingled feeling of satisfaction and dla* 


138 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


may, that the role of devoted wife had ceased to interest his 
blonde comrade in iniquity. 

The fact gave him a malicious pleasure because, as fate had 
dared to play against him, he would have felt especially ag- 
grieved if a few thorns had not been introduced into the eider 
down that seemingly enveloped his fair accomplice. 

But he felt some dismay, for he knew by the swift flash of 
azure eyes under golden lashes, by the sway of her shoulders as 
she paced the terrace, by the nervous tapping of her slippered 
foot at certain times in the intervals of table chat — that Cora was 
thinking. And when Cora thought, something was about to 
happen. 

It was in odedience to one of those swift side glances, that he 
followed her from the morning room, one forenoon about three 
Aveeks after the news of Madeline’s death had come to them. 
The day was bright but chill, and the Avonian had wrapped her- 
self in a shawl of vivid crimson, but stood with bared head in 
the sunlight waiting the approach of her counterfeit brother. 

“ Cover your head, you very thoughtless woman,” was his 
brotherly salutation as he approached, plunging about in his 
pockets in search of a cigar the while. 

“ Bother!” she ejaculated, tossing her golden locks; “ my hair 
naeds a sunbath. I only wish I dare indulge myself further! 
If you had any heart you Avouldn’t torture me so constantly with 
the odor of those magnificent Havanas, Avhen you knoAV hoAV my 
very soul longs for a weed !” 

“ Poor little woman,” laughing maliciously; “ fancy Mrs. John 
Arthur of Oakley smoking a Perique ! Isn’t it prime, Co. ?” 
puffing out a cloud of perfumed smoke. 

“ Prime ! bah ! I’d like to strangle you, or — ” 

“Or? — ” inquiringly. 

“Somebody,” laughing nervously. 


miss Arthur's french maid. 


139 


^ Just so; Miss Arthur would be a good subject, and that 
would confer a favor on me, too, by Jove !” 

“I don’t want to confer a favor on you. You had much 
better try and do me one, I think.” 

“With all my heart, taking my ability for granted, of course; 
only tell me how.” 

Cora shrugged her crimson-clad shoulders, and they paced 
forward in silence for a time. Then as if his stillness had been 
speech of a distasteful kind, she ejaculated, crossly, and without 
turning her head: “Stuff! you talk too much!” 

Lucian smiled maliciously, removed his cigar from between 
his lips, described a smoke wreath in mid-air, replaced his weed, 
and said: “Do I? then mum’s the word;” and he relapsed 
into silence. 

He seemed bent on annoying her, for there was a laughing 
glimmer in his eye, and he obstinately refused to attempt to 
draw her out, and so make easier whatever she might have to say, 
for he knew that she had signaled him out to-day for a purpose. 

Mutely he walked by her side, and contentedly puffed at his 
cigar until, at length, she turned upon him, and struck petu- 
lantly at the hand that had just removed it from his lips. The 
weed fell from his fingers to the ground, and Cora set her slip- 
pered heel upon it, as if it were an enemy, and laughed 
triumphantly. 

“Now we are on a level,” she cried. “Do you suppose I 
intend to give you that advantage over me?” 

“It seems not,” with a shrug expressive of resignation and a 
smile hidden by his mustache. 

He was not the man to be angered, or even ruffled, by these 
little feminine onslaughts. In fact, they rather pleased and 
amused him, and he had become well accustomed to Cora’s 


140 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ little ways,” as lie called them. Deprived of his cigar, he 
thrust his hands into his pockets and whistled softly. 

“ Lucian, if you don’t stop looking so comfortable, and con- 
tent, and altogether don’t-care-ish, I shall do something very 
desperate,” she exclaimed, pettishly. 

"No?” raising his eyebrows in mock incredulity; " you don’t 
tell me. I thought you were in a little heaven of your own, 
Mrs. Arthur.” 

"Oh! you did? Very clever of you. Well, Mr. Davlin, 
lias it occurred to you that heaven might not be a congenial 
climate for me?” 

"Not while your wings are so fresh, surely? You have 
scarcely entered your paradise, fair peri.” 

"Haven’t I?” ironically. "Well, I am tired of manna, any- 
how.” Cora was not always strictly elegant in her choice of 
expressions, " Now, Lucian, stop parleying, and tell me, when 
is this going to end?” 

"When?” 

He stopped and looked down at her intently. Twice they 
had traversed the terrace, and now they paused at the termina- 
tion furthest from the house. Just before them a diminutive 
flight of stone steps led down to a narrow graveled walk, that 
skirted a velvety bit of lawn, and was in its turn hedged by 
some close and high-growing shrubs from the " Bellair woods,” 
as they were called. Beyond the steps was a gap in the hedge, 
and this, cut and trimmed until it formed a compact and beau- 
tiful arch, was spanned by a stile, built for the convenience of 
those who desired to reach the village by the shortest route, the 
Bellair woods. 

" Don’t repeat like a parrot, Lucian.” Cora raised her voice 
angrily. "I say, when is this to end? and how?” 


A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD. 


141 


They were just opposite the gap in the hedge and Lucian, 
looking down upon Cora, stood facing the opening. As the 
words crossed her lips, his eyes fell upon a figure just behind 
her, and he checked the conversation by an involuntary motion 
of the hand. 

The figure came toward them. It was Miss Arthur’s French 
maid, and she carried in her hand a small parcel. Evidently 
she was returning from some errand to the v i 1 1 age. Miss Arthur’s 
maid had black hair, dressed very low on the forehead ; eyes of 
some sort, it is to be presumed, but they were effectually con- 
cealed by blue glasses; a rather pasty complexion; a form that 
might have been good, but if so, its beauties were hidden by the 
loose and, as Cora expressed it, “floppy,” style of jacket which 
she habitually wore. She passed them with a low “ Bon jour , 
madame ,” and hurried up the terrace. At least she was walk- 
ing swiftly, but not very smoothly, up the terrace when Lucian 
cast after her a last disapproving glance. 

“Your lady’s maid is not a swan nor a beauty,” he said, as 
they by mutual consent went down the steps. 

Cora made no reply to this, seeming lost in thought. They 
walked on for a moment in silence. 

But Celine Leroque did not walk on. She dropped her pack- 
age and, stooping to recover it, cast a swift glance after the pair. 
They were sauntering slowly down the hedgerow walk, their 
backs toward her. 

Probably the falling parcel had reminded the French maid of 
something forgotten, for she turned swiftly, silently, and with- 
out any of her previous awkwardness retraced her steps and dis- 
appeared beyond the stile. 

“What’s the row, Co.?” asked Lucian, kicking a pebble 
with his boot toe. “You are getting restive early in the 


142 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


game. Can’t you keep to the track for another two months?” 
“No.” 

“What then?”. 

“ This. We must get that fool out of the way.” 

“ Meaning who?” 

“She, of course — Ellen Arthur. The woman will make a 
raving maniac of me in two months more.” 

“By Jove ! and of me, too, if I don’t get out of this.” 

“ We must get rid of her.” 

« How?” 

“ I don’t know — somehow, anyhow.” 

“And then?” 

“And then — •” she gave him a side glance, and laughed un- 
pleasantly. 

“And then? You have a plan, my blonde. Out with it; I 
am a listener.” 

And he did listen. 

Slowly down the hedgerow path they paced, and at the end, 
halted and stood for a time in earnest consultation. There was 
some difference of opinion, but the difference became adjusted. 
And they turned toward the house, evidently satisfied with the 
result of the morning’s consultation. 

Not long after, Miss Arthur’s maid returned also. 

“ I see by the papers that Dr. LeGuise has come back from 
Europe, Cora,” announced Mr. Davlin from his seat at the lunch 
table that day. 

“Dr. LeGuise! how delightful ! Now one will not be afraid 
to be sick — our old family physician, you know,” to Miss Arthur ; 
“and so skillful. He has been in Europe a year. The dear 
man, how I long to see him !” 

“Well!” laughed Lucian, “I will carry him any amount of 


WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. 


143 


affection, providing it is not too bulky. I find that I must run 
up to tlie city to-morrow, and of course will look him up.” 

“Oh !” eagerly, “and find out if he saw the D’Arcys in Paris; 
and those delightful Trevanions!” Then, regretfully, “can’t 
you stay another week, dear?” 

“Out of the question, Co., much as I regret it,” glancing ex- 
pressively at Miss Arthur. “But I shan’t forget you all.” 

“Pray do not,” simpered the spinster. “And when do you 
return?” 

“Not for two or three weeks, I fear. But rest assured I 
shall lose no time, when once I am at liberty.” 

During his lazy, good-humored moments, Mr. Davlin had 
made most ridiculous love to Miss Arthur, and that lady had not 
been behind in doing her part. Now, strange to say, the face 
which she bent over her napkin wore upon it a look, not of 
sorrow, but of relief. And why? 


CHAPTER XIY. 

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. 

“Take especial care with my toilet this morning, Celine,” 
drawled Miss Arthur, as she sat before a mirror in her luxuri- 
ously appointed dressing-room. 

Wise Cora had seen the propriety of giving to this unwelcome 
sister-in-law with the heavy purse, apartments of the best in the 
newly fitted-up portion of the mansion. 

“I want you to be especially careful with my hair and com- 
plexion,” Miss Arthur continued. 

' “Yes, mademoiselle,” demurely. Then, as if the information 


144 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


might bear upon the question of the toilet, “Does mademoiselle 
know that Monsieur Davlin left an hour ago?” 

“Certainly, Celine, but I expect a visitor. He may arrive 
at any time to-day, and you must do your very best with my 
toilet.” 

“Mademoiselle esi charmante; slight need of Celine’s poor 
aid,” cooed the little hypocrite, and the toilet proceeded. 

At length, the resources of art having been exhausted, Miss 
Arthur stood up, and approved of Celine’s handiwork. 

“I really do look nicely, Celine; you have done well, very. 
Now go send me a pot of chocolate and a bit of toast.” 

“Yes, mademoiselle.” 

“And a bit of chicken, or a bird’s wing.” 

“Oui.” 

“And a French roll, Celine, with perhaps an omelette.” 

“ Pardonne, mademoiselle, but might I suggest we must not 
forget this,” touching Miss Arthur’s tightly laced waist. 

“True, Celine, quite right; the toast, then. And, Celine, 
remain down-stairs and when Mr. Percy comes,” (her maid 
visibly started at the name) “ show him into the little parlor, and 
tell him I am somewhere in the grounds — you understand? 
Then come and let me know. I prefer to have him fancy me 
surprised, you see,” smiling playfully. 

“I see; mademoiselle has such tact,” and the French maid 
disappeared. 

“Mr. Percy?” muttered the French maid, in very English 
accents; “I will certainly look for your coming, Mr. Percy. 
Can it be that I am to meet you at last?” 

Mrs. John Arthur was restless that morning. She fidgeted 
about after the departure of her brother; tried to play the 
agreeable to her husband; but finding this a difficult task; left 


WHEEIjB within wheels. 


145 


him to his cigar and his morning paper, in the solitude of his 
sanctum, and seizing her crimson shawl, started out for a turn 
upon the 'terrace. 

The “ little parlor,” as it was called, commanded a view of one 
end of the terrace walk, but no portion of it was visible from 
the immediate front of Oakley mansion, the terrace running 
across the grounds in the rear of the dwelling, and being shut off 
from the front by a thicket of flowering shrubs and trees. 

The hall facing the front entrance to Oakley was deserted now, 
save for the figure of Celine Leroque, who was ensconsed in one 
of the windows thereof. She had been watching there for more 
than an hour, and Cora had promenaded the terrace half that time, 
when a gentleman approached the mansion from the front gate- 
way. 

Celine’s eyes were riveted upon the coming figure, as it ap- 
peared and disappeared among the trees and shrubbery along 
the winding walk. At length he emerged into open space and 
approached nearer. 

Celine Leroque suppressed a cry of astonishment as she an- 
ticipated his ring and ushered him in. A very blonde man, 
with the lower half of his face covered with a mass of yellow wav- 
ing beard; pale blue, searching, unfathomable eyes ; pale yellow 
hair; a handsome face, the face she had seen pictured in Claire’s 
souvenir ! 

Celine Leroque led the way toward the little parlor with a 
heart beating rapidly. 

“Miss Arthur is in the grounds,” she said, ip answer to his 
inquiry. “I will go look for her;” and she turned away. 

Mr. Percy placed his hat upon a little table and tossing back 
his fair hair, said: “I think I can see her now/ 3 

Approaching the window he looked down upon the terrace 
IQ 


146 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Celine looked, too, and catching a gleam of crimson, said: 
“ That is not Miss Arthur.” 

“Stop a moment, my girl,” the man exclaimed. 

He was gazing down at Cora, who was walking away from 
them, with a puzzled look. “Good God!” he ejaculated, as she 
turned and he saw her face. 

He checked himself, and withdrawing hastily from the win- 
dow, took up his hat as if about to depart. Approaching the 
window once again, he looked cautiously forth, and seeing Cora 
still pacing the terrace in evident unconcern, he muttered to him- 
self, but quite audibly, “ Thank goodness, she did not see me.” 

Then turning to Celine: “Girl, who is that woman?” 

The girl approached the window : “ That, monsieur, is Madame 
Cora Arthur.” 

“A widow, eh?” 

“Oh, no, monsieur. Mr. Arthur is the master~of Oakley.” 

“Oh ! and madame — how long has she been his wife?” 

“She is still a bride, monsieur.” 

“Still a bride, is she? How exceedingly pleasant.” Mr. 
Percy had evidently recovered from his panic. “ Was she a 
miss when she married the master of Oakley?” 

“Oh, no, monsieur; a widow.” 

“ Widow?” stroking his whiskers caressingly. “What name?” 

“Madame Torrance, monsieur.” 

“Madame Torrance, eh? Well, my good girl, take this,” 
offering a bank note. “ I really thought that Madame Torrance, 
I mean Arthur, was an old friend ; however, it seems I was mis- 
taken. Now, my girl, go and tell that lady that a gentleman 
desires to see her, and do not announce me to Miss Arthur yet. 
May I depend upon you?” glancing at her keenly. 

“You may, monsieur.” 


WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. 


147 


Taking the offered money, she made an obeisance, and with- 
drew. 

The little parlor had but one means of egress — through the 
door by which Mr. Percy had entered. This door was near the 
angle of the room; so near that, as it swung inward, it almost 
grazed against a huge high-backed chair, stiff and grim, but 
reckoned among the elegant pieces of furniture that are always, 
or nearly always, uncomfortable. This chair occupied the angle, 
and behind its capacious back was comfortable room for one or 
two persons, should they fancy occupying a position so secluded. 
The act of opening the door completely screened this chair 
from the view of any person not directly opposite it, until such 
time as the door should be again closed. 

As Celine Leroque opened the door and disappeared one might 
have fancied, had they been gazing at that not-very-interesting 
object, that the high-backed chair moved ever so little. 

Celine flew along the hall and down the stairway, tearing 
viciously at something as she went. Once in the open air, the 
brisk autumn breezes caught something from her hand, and sent 
little fragments whirling through space — paper scraps, that might 
have been dissected particles of a bank note. 

Cora listened in some surprise to the messenger, who broke 
in upon her meditations with a trifle less of suavity than was 
usual in Miss Arthur’s maid. 

“A gentleman, to see me! Are you quite sure, Celine?” 

Mrs. Arthur, for various reasons, received but few friends, 
and Celine thought now that she looked a trifle annoyed. 

“ Well, Celine, where is the gentleman ? Stop,” as if struck by 
a sudden thought, and changing color slightly, "tell him I am 
out, but not until I have got up-stairs,” she said; “not until I 
have had an opportunity to see him, myself unseen,” she thought. 


148 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“But, madame,” hesitated Celine, “he is in the little parlor. 
He saw madame at the upper end of the terrace.” 

“Confusion! What did he say, girl?” excitedly. 

“He said, madame, that he wished to speak with you; that 
he was an old friend.” 

“Well, go along,” sharply. “I will see the man.” 

Celine turned about and Cora followed her almost sullenly. 
She had some apprehension as to this unknown caller, but he had 
seen her, and whoever he was she must face him, for Cora was 
no coward. 

Celine tripped along thinking intently. 

“This man is Edward Percy — Edward Percy, the lover of 
two women. He was frightened when he saw this Mrs. Arthur, 
and my words reassured him; why? At the mention of a 
strange caller, she must needs see him before she permits him 
an interview — for that is what she meant. Do they know each 
other? If so, the plot thickens.” 

Edward Percy had certainly been agitated at sight of Mrs. 
Arthur, and had as certainly recovered when assured* that the 
lady was Mrs. Arthur. He looked the image of content now, 
as he lounged at the window. Under the blonde. mustaches, a 
smile of cunning and triumph rested ; but his eyes looked very 
blue, very, very calm, very unfathomable. 

“Madame Arthur, sir.” 

Celine opens the door gently, and admits the form of Cora. 
Then, as the two face each other in silence, the door quietly 
closes, neither one having glanced toward the girl, who has dis- 
appeared. 

Cora stands before him, the folds of the crimson shawl falling 
away from the plump, graceful shoulders, and mingling with the 
sweep of her black cashmere wrapper in rich, graceful contrast. 


WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. 


149 


One fair hand gathers up the crimson fabric and, instinctively, 
the other thrusts itself out in a repellant gesture, as the soft voice 
utters, in tones of mingled hate and fear: “You!” 

He laughs softly. “ Yes, I. I knew you would be delighted.” 
All the time he is gazing at her critically, apparently viewing 
her loveliness with an approving eye. 

And now the woman feels through her whole being but the 
one instinct — hate. She has forgotten all fear, and stands before 
him erect, pallid, but with eye and lip , expressing the bitterness 
that rages within her. 

“You won’t say you are glad to see me? Cruel Alice,” he 
murmurs, plaintively. “ And after all these years, too ; how 
many are they, my dear ?” 

“No matter I” fiercely. “They have given the devil ample 
time to claim his own, and yet you are upon earth !” 

“Yes,” serenely; “both of us.” 

“Both of us, then. How dare you seek me out?” 

“My dear wife, I never did you so much honor. I came to 
this house for another purpose, and Providence, kind Providence, 
has guided me to you.” 

The woman seemed recalled to herself. Again the look of 
fear overspread her face, and looking nervously about her, she 
said. “For God’s sake, hush ! What you wish to say, say out, 
but don’t let your voice go beyond these walls.” 

“ Dear Alice, my voice never was vulgarly loud, was it ? recol- 
lect, if you pjease,” in an injured tone. 

“Well! well ! what do you want with me? Percy Jordan, I 
warn you — I am not the woman you wronged ten years ago.” 

“No; by my faith, you are a handsomer woman, and you 
carry yourself like a duchess. Why didn’t you do that when 
you were Mrs. — ” 


150 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Hush!” she cried; “you base liar, it did not take me long to 
find you out, even then. Don’t forget that you have lived in 
fear of me for ten long years.” 

a Just so,” serenely; “ haven’t they been long? But they are 
ended now, my dear; my incubus is dead and — ” 

“But documents don’t die,” she interrupted; “ don’t forget 
that!” 

“Not for worlds. For instance, I remember that in a certain 
church register may be* seen the marriage lines of Alice Ford 
and — ahem — myself. And somewhere, not far away, there must 
be on record the statement that Mr. Arthur, of Oakley, has 
wedded the incomparable Mrs. Torrance, a blonde widow — 
ahem. Where did you go, my dear, when you left my bed and 
board so very unceremoniously? 

What had I done, or what hadst. thou, 

That through this weary world till now 
I’ve walked with empty arms.’ ” 

He stretched out those members tragically. 

“And I don’t forget that I was never legally your wife, as 
you had another living,” cried Cora, ignoring the latter part of 
his speech. 

No; of course not. Does Mr. John Arthur know that you 
were once my — ” 

“Dupe? no,” she interrupted. “Come, time passes; tell me 
what you know, and what you want.” 

Softly, softly, Mrs. Arthur. I know enough to insure me 
against being turned out of Oakley by you; and I want a wife 
and a fortune.” 

“ I don’t understand you.” 

“ Possibly not, Madame Arthur.” Then, with mock emotion : 



«* The soft voice utters, in tones of mingled hate and fear, ‘ You V ” — 

page 149. 


151 








152 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Might I, dare I, ask you to give to my keeping, that incom- 
parable maiden, that houri of houris, your young and lovely 
sister-in-law, Miss Ellen Arthur?” 

The woman looked at him in silence for a time, and then, 
flinging herself upon a couch, burst into a peal of soft laughter. 
She understood it all now. 

“So you are the expected lover!” she ejaculated, laughing 
afresh; “and she is up-stairs, in bright array, waiting for you.” 

“ And lam down here, pleading for permission to address 
this pearl of price.” 

Cora arose and gathered her crimson wrap about her should- 
ers. “And how is it to be between us?” she asked coolly. 

“My sweet Alice, if you were John Arthur’s widow instead 
of John Arthur’s wife, it should be as if the past ten years were 
but a dream.” 

“Indeed — provided, of course, I were John Arthur’s heiress 
as well.” 

“Certainly!” 

“ And how is it that you are once more fortune hunting? Five 
years ago you inherited wealth sufficient for your every need.” 

The elegant Mr. Percy went through the pantomime of 
shuffling and dealing cards, then looked at her with a grimace. 

“All?” she inquired, as if the action had been words. 

“Every ducat,” solemnly. “So what is to be my fate, fair 
destiny?” .. * 

Cora mused, then laughed again. “After all, you may prove 
a friend in need,” she said. “I shan’t interfere between you 
and Miss Arthur ; be sure of that.” 

Then they fell to settling the preliminaries of a siege upon the 
heart of Miss Arthur, together with other little trifles that oc- 
curred as they talked. They had both thrown offi their air of 


WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. 


153 


hostility, and were seated opposite each other, conversing quite 
comfortably, when the door swung open, and Miss Arthur stood 
before them; Miss Arthur, in the full glory of snowy cashmere, 
with cherry satin facings; Miss Arthur, with curls waving, and 
in all her war-paint. 

The two plotters arose, and saluted her with much empresse- 
ment. 

Miss Arthur advanced a step and stood beside the high-backed 
chair, one hand still resting upon the door. Percy came toward 
her with outstretched hands. 

“Ah-h-h!” screeched the spinster, “what was that?” 

Turning quickly she encountered nothing more formidable 
than her French maid, who had evidently hurried to the spot, for 
she breathed rapidly, and said, in an anxious manner : 

“Pardon, mademoiselle, it is I, — did mademoiselle ring? I 
thought so.” 

“You stepped on my dress, girl,” said Miss Arthur, sharply. 
'“No, I did not ring; perhaps Mrs. Arthur did.” 

“ I did ring, Ellen,” lied Cora, sweetly, wondering what lucky 
providence sent the girl to the door just then. “I rang for you, 
as Mr. Percy here, in whom I have discovered a Long Branch 
acquaintance, would hardly treat me civilly, so impatient has he 
been to see Miss Arthur.” 

Miss Arthur looked somewhat appeased. “You may go, 
Celine,” she said, with her most stately air. 

Thus she sailed forward to meet Mr. Percy. 

Celine departed, smiling an odd little smile. She went to her 
own room and sitting down upon the bedside, meditated. Pres- 
ently she arose, aud walking over to her mirror, gazed at her re- 
flected image, and shaking her Head at it, murmured : 

“What a nice little maid you are, Celine Leroque — aud how 


154 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


these people will love you by and by ! You now hold in your 
hands the thread that will unravel this mixture of mystery, and 
when the reckoning comes, it will not be you that falls.” 

Thoughtfully she paced the little apartment. By and by she 
threw herself upon the bed and closed her eyes, still thinking. 
If she could only know just how these two had separated— 
Edward Percy and Cora Arthur; and what part Lucian Davlin 
had played in that separation drama. Lid Cora know Lucian 
ten years ago — did Percy know him for his rival ? Suddenly 
the girl sprang up, and smiting her two palms together, ex- 
claimed : 

“ If these two men were rivals, then we may yet find a rea- 
son why Lucian Davlin should attempt the life of Edward Percy !” 

And now what should she do? 

Claire Keith’s bright face rose before her as she asked herself 
the question. Claire must be warned and saved; but how? The 
girl’s brow darkened. 

“ She will scorn the man,” she muttered, between pale lips, 
“and then she will learn to value that other. She will grieve 
for a time, perhaps, but not for long; then — then she will 
become his wife, while I — What right has she to all the 
blessings?” 

The girl stood motionless, with hands tightly clasped. The 
conflict lasted but a moment when, in a firm, clear voice she con- 
tinued : 

“ It would be base not to save her from this wretch — and save 
her I will; and I will restore to Olive Girard her husband; is 
that not payment enough for all they have done for me? But 
he, Clarence, my hero — why must I yield him up without a 
struggle? She does not love him; she never will love him if 
I say the word; she is as generous as — as I am base, I think. 


CORA AND THE FRENCH MAID MEASURE SWORDS. 155 


No, it is not base to love him, to try to win him. And why 
not? I must think, think, think.” 

All that day and night the girl pondered deeply. In the 
morning she arose weary, unrefreshed. 

“I will save Claire Keith from the suffering that befell me,” 
she said. u But she shall not have all the good things of this 
life, and I none.” 


CHAPTEB XV. 

CORA AND THE FRENCH MAID MEASURE SWORDS. 

During the day, Miss Arthur communicated to . her maid 
the fact that Mr. Percy would remain in Bellair for the present. 
He was going away for a day on business; then he would re- 
turn and take up his abode at the Bellair inn. 

“ Would monsieur be absent to-morrow?” 

“ Yes.” 

Then, as mademoiselle would not especially need her, would 
she graciously give her the day? Her sister had just returned 
from Paris, and would very soon leave the city en route for 
Washington. Her sister was in the service of Mrs. General 
Delonne — of course mademoiselle had heard of Madame De- 
lonne; knew her, perhaps. Celine much desired to see this sis- 
ter, and expected to get some valuable hints from her regarding 
the very latest French coiffeurs , etc., etc. In short, could 
mademoiselle spare her to-morrow, just for one little day? 

Mademoiselle, after due deliberation, perhaps in consideration 
of the new coiffeurs , graciously consented. This matter was 


156 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


settled while the dinner toilet of the lady was in progress ; and 
fceline spared no pains to make her mistress satisfied with her- 
self and all about her. 

“How long had Mr. Percy been in the little parlor, Celine, 
before I came down?” questioned the lady. 

She was still a trifle dissatisfied at having found her lover so 
cosily tete-a-tete with her fascinating sister-in-law. 

“Oh, a very short time, my lady — I mean mademoiselle.” 

“And how did he meet Mrs. Arthur?” anxiously. 

“ Madame was just entering from the terrace; they met in the 
hall,” glibly. 

“And did they meet like old friends, Celine?” 

“Oh, no! mademoiselle; quite formally. At first I fancied he 
was really displeased at meeting her — but of course mademoiselle 
knew the reason for that,” slyly. 

“Hush, you foolish girl,” said the flattered spinster; “it’s all 
right, of course.” And she relapsed into reverie. 

Miss Arthur had exhausted her patience waiting for her tardy 
admirer, and, finding her own apartments dull, had come down 
to the parlor, thus interrupting the interview, to the disgust of 
more than one of those interested. 

Mr. Percy had many questions yet to propound to his newly- 
found wife, as he called her, and she, knowing him so well, felt 
a trifle more uneasy than was comfortable, wondering what use, 
if any, he intended to make of the small amount of power he 
still possessed over her. She must hold another interview with 
him, and that soon. Meantime, she left him to the tender mer- 
cies of the happy spinster. 

It was late in the evening when she at last found a convenient 
opportunity, and crossed the hall in the direction of Miss Arthur’s 
dressing-room. She was about to open the door and enter, when 


CORA AND THE FRENCH MAID MEASURE SWORDS. 157 


her movement was anticipated by Celine, who appear^ upon 
the threshold in hat and shawl. 

Mrs. Arthur seemed not at all abashed, but pushing the girl 
back into the room, stepped in herself and closed the door. 

“ You were going out, Celine ?” smiling sweetly. 

“Yes, madame,” respectfully. 

“May I ask where?” 

“ Certainly, madame. I have leave to go and see my sister 
to-morrow. I am going to telegraph her that she may expect 
me. Can I serve madame?” 

Madame pondered a moment. 

“Celine,” she said, abruptly. “Why did you pretend to an- 
swer a ring this morning, when your mistress came down to the 
little parlor?” 

“I trust madame was not offended,” deprecatingly. 

“No, no,” impatiently; “but I want to understand you.” 

“Madame shall. Madame must know that my mistress is 
not always smooth in temper?” 

“Yes,” laughing wickedly. 

“This morning she bade me admit the gentleman, tell him 
she was in the grounds, and then come to her. He came, and 
almost immediately saw you, madame, walking on the terrace.” 

“Stop. How did he act when he saw me, Celine?” 

The girl looked at her in apparent hesitation. “Madame 
will not be angry with me?” 

“No, no.” 

“He looked almost frightened, and took his hat, as if about 
to go.” 

Cora uttered a low, triumphant, “Ah, did he?” 

“Then he called me back as I was leaving the room to sum- 
mon my mistress, and asked me whoyouwere, Xtold him. He 


158 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


looked relieved, said he had mistaken you for an old acquaint- 
ance, and bade me ask you to come to him, and say nothing to 
Miss Arthur until he desired it.” 

“I see; but why did you follow her, when she came down? 
Did she know we were there?” 

“No, madame.” 

“Then why—” 

“Pardon,” with a sidelong glance at her face, “but madame 
is beautiful, and my mistress is jealous. I thought you might 
wish me to do as I did, and I desired to serve you, madame.” 

Cora eyed her keenly. “But why serve me, Celine?” 

“Madame has ever been gracious to Celine,” said the girl, 
lowering her eyes. “Even a servant appreciates kindness — my 
mistress never considers that.” 

Cora’s thoughts flew fast. If she could trust this girl, she 
might make her very useful. She had sought this interview to 
question her concerning the adventure of the morning, and now 
might she not be. of still more service? 

A few more sharply-put questions were asked, and answered 
with corresponding shrewdness. Then Celine detailed, in her 
own way, her interview with her mistress on the subject of Mr. 
Percy’s visit. 

Cora was at last fully satisfied that, for some reason, Miss 
Arthur had aroused a feeling of antagonism in the breast of 
her maid. She resolved to profit by this state of affairs. Ac- 
cordingly, a few moments later, Celine Leroque flitted out from 
the house the bearer of two important messages. 

One, in writing, was a telegram to be sent to Lucian Davlin. 

The other was a verbal message to be delivered, in some way, 
to Mr. Percy before he quitted the grounds of Oakley. 

Pausing at a safe distance from the house, Celine produced 


CORA AND THE FRENCH MAID MEASURE SWORDS. 159 


from her pocket some waxen matches. She lighted one, having 
looked cautiously about her, and spreading open the telegram to 
Mr. Davlin, read these words: 

Come down to-morrow without fail. It is most important, C. 

“So,” muttered Miss Arthur’s maid as, flinging away the 
match, she hurried on her way; “so he must be consulted; he 
must come down. In the absence of Percy, too. I won- 
der if he knows, this Percy, that Lucian Davlin at present 
personates the dutiful brother of his fair lost love.” Such a 
sneer rested on the face of the French maid. “Well! Mr. 
Davlin must come and, unfortunately, I can’t be present at this 
interview. However, I shall be able to judge pretty accu- 
rately by their future movements what was its portent.” 

Edward Percy, as he chose to call himself, was not aware of 
the position held by Lucian Davlin in that household. Cora 
had seized an opportunity to murmur to Miss Arthur a soft 
warning. 

“Ellen, dear!” she had said, “pray don’t mention Lucian to 
Mr. Percy, unless you wish to shorten his stay with us. The 
fact is, the two had a slight misunderstanding while we were all 
at Long Branch, about a horse or something. Lucian was very 
much to blame, I think, but they parted bad friends. It is best 
never to interfere in men’s quarrels, so I have not mentioned Lu- 
cian’s name to him at all.” 

Cunning Celine! Her tact had made this explanation seem a 
quite probable one; and as Miss Arthur certainly had no de- 
sire to drive Mr. Percy from Oakley, she assured her “kind, 
thoughtful Cora,” that she would be very guarded and never once 
mention Mr. Davlin’s name in his enemy’s presence. 

Of this fact, of course, Celipe was in total ignorance, as she 


160 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


proceeded on her way, which was not to the telegraph office; at 
least not yet. 

Hurrying through the Oakley wood in the opposite direction 
from the village, she crossed the meadow and approached the 
cottage of Nurse Hagar. A light was dimly visible through the 
paper curtains, but no sound was heard from within. The girl 
listened at the door a moment, and then tapped softly. 

Presently slip-shod feet could be heard crossing the uncarpeted 
floor, and a key creaked in its lock, after which the door opened, 
a very little way, and the old woman’s face peered cautiously out 
into the night. Then she hastily opened the door wide and ad- 
mitted the visitor. 

“ Is it you, dearie?” she asked, rather unnecessarily, survey- 
ing her critically by the light of a flaring tallow candle. 

“No, Aunt Hagar, it’s not I,” laughed the girl; “it’s Miss 
Arthur’s French maid that you see before you. And don’t drop 
that tallow on her devoted head,” lifting a deprecating hand. 

“ Umph ! we seem in great spirits to-night,” leading the way 
back to the fire-place, beside which stood her easy splint-bottomed 
chair. 

“ So we are,” assented the girl ; “ and why shouldn’t we be, 
pray? Aren’t we a very happy French maid, and a very' skill- 
ful one, and a very lucky one?” 

“How should I know?” grumbled the old woman; “what do 
I know? I’m only old Hagar; don’t mind explaining anything 
to me!” 

“Bywhich you mean, beware of your wrath if I don’t explain 
things to you ; eh, auntie?” 

Hagar mumbled something, not exactly intended to be a 
speech but simply asmall growl, illustrative of her mood. Then, 
as if her dignity had been sufficiently asserted, she relaxed her 



“Celine looked cautiousl}” around her.” — page 159. 


11 


161 










162 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


grimness, and looking kindly down upon the girl, and pushing 
her toward the big chair, said : 

“But law! child, you look fagged out. Sit down, sit down, 
and don’t mind an old woman’s grumbling.” 

“ Did I ever?” laughed the girl, sinking into the big chair as 
if indeed willing to rest. “But I can’t sit here long, nursie; 
my day’s work, or rather my night’s work, is not yet finished.” 

“Not yet? Oh, Madeline, my little nursling, give up these 
wild plans and plots; they will bring you no good.” 

“Won’t they?” nodding significantly. “ I think they will do 
me good, and you, too, Nurse Hagar; and before very long, too. 
Why, bless you, these precious plotters won’t wait for me to 
bring them into my net ; they are tumbling in headlong — all 
of them. They are helping me, with all their might, to bring 
about their own downfall. Hagar,” and the girl leaned suddenly 
forward and looked closely into the old woman’s face, “ I want 
you to come back to Oakley.” 

Hagar started back as if struck by a knife. She was about to 
open her lips and set free a torrent of indignant protest, when the 
girl lifted her hand, interrupting her in the old characteristic way. 

“Wait until I explain, auntie. I want you to go to Oakley 
to-morrow, at the hour when .Mr. John Arthur is always sup- 
posed to be taking his after-dinner nap. Just after dinner, I 
want you to see Madame Cora; manage it in your own way, but 
see her you must.” 

“ I won’t !” broke in the old woman. 

“You will,” said the girl, quietly, “when I have told you 
why.” 

Drawing her chair close to that occupied by her companion, 
she resumed in a low voice: 

“Yesterday Miss Arthur sent me to the village to purchase 


CORA AND THE FRENCH MAID MEASURE SWORDS. 163 


some trifling articles for the adornment of her precious person. 
Returning through the woods, I came upon Mr. Davlin and 
his 'sister/ conversing very earnestly, just at the lower end of 
the terrace. I arrived at the hedgerow stile just in time to hear 
madame say, very emphatically, that something must be done 
immediately. They were going down the terrace steps when I 
passed them, pretending to be in a great hurry. As soon as 
their backs were toward me, I turned quickly, and without noise 
crossed the stile, followed them on the opposite side of the hedge, 
and listened.” 

Here the speaker paused and looked up, but her auditor was 
gazing moodily into the fire, and never stirred nor 'oke. 

“ Madame was saying,” resumed the narrator, “that she was 
heartily weary of the part she was playing; that its monotony 
sickened her; that they had secured the victims, and’ fate had 
been kind enough to remove the only stumbling block in their 
path, save the old man himself ; that she considered my very 
sensible demise a direct answer to her pious prayers.” 

The old woman shuddered and cast a look of horror upon the 
speaker. 

“ They had evidently discussed this matter before, and par- 
tially settled their plans, only the man seemed to think it was 
too soon to begin to act. But madame declared that she should 
do worse if they did not commence operations at once, and 
finally she overruled him.” 

“Of course,” savagely. 

“Of course. Well, I now lost a little of their conversation, 
but I kept the thread of it. You see, I had to move very cau- 
tiously, and sometimes fall behind them a bit, when the leafage 
became less thick.” 

Hagar nodded. 


164 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Their plan was a beautiful one, and they have already set it 
in motion.” 

“Already?” 

“Already; don’t interrupt, please; I will tell you how in 
good time. First, then, madame is to fall ill not desperately 
ill, but just ill enough to be interesting, and to alarm the old 
man. By the way, Mr. Davlin left this morning for the city; 
that is one move. He is to remain in the city until after the 
illness of madame, who is to refuse to receive any of the village 
doctors. Finally, he is to be sent for, and admonished to bring 
with him their old family physician, who has but just returned 
from Europe. Well, they come, the brother and the family 
physician — do you follow me?” 

“Yes, yes!” nodding eagerly. 

“They come. And the doctor says madame is threatened 
with a malignant fever, and orders everybody out of the house. 
It is needless to say that Miss Arthur flies instantly; but le 
dodeur, interviewing the half-sick, fidgety old man, discovers 
that he, too, is threatened with the fever. Of course, he can 
not leave then.” 

Old Hagar’s eyes were twinkling, and she was bending for- 
ward now in an eagerly attentive attitude. “No,” she breathed, 
unconsciously. 

“Well, the heroic brother will refuse to fly from the fever, 
and will implore the skillful man of medicine to remain and 
minister unto the sick. The good doctor stays. Of course, 
such of the servants as are at all likely to prove troublesome, 
through possessing a trifle more brains than is usually alloted 
to an idiot, will be kindly told that, rather than endanger 
their lives, the household will dispense with their valuable 
services. Then a nurse, perhaps two, will come down from the 
city, and the plotters have the game in their own hands.” 


CORA AND THE FRENCH MAII} MEASURE SWORDS. 165 


Here the girl paused, and leaned back in her chair as if her 
story were done. 

“And then?” exclaimed Hagar. 

“And then!” echoed her companion, bending forward and 
resting her hand upon the old woman’s wrist; “and then madame 
will recover — but John Arthur will remain an invalid and a 
prisoner! It will be said in the village that the fever has 
affected his brain, and his unpopularity, arising from the fact 
that he has always shunned and scorned the village folk, will 
insure them against intrusive investigators. Auntie, they have 
hatched a pretty plot.” 

“But,” objected Hagar, “they will have to stay at Oakley, if 
he is to be a prisoner. They won’t dare leave him with keepers 
and—” 

“ True,” the girl interrupted. “ I don’t know how they will 
manage the rest; but having settled this much, madame and her 
‘ brother’ paused at the end of the path. I saw her as she looked 
up into his face, and this is what she said : ‘ When he is once a 
prisoner, what could be more natural than that a crazy, sick old 
man should die some day?’ Then the man replied, ‘Nothing;’ 
and they both returned to the house, without another word.” 

For some moments silence reigned in Hagar’s dwelling. The 
old woman seemed either unable, or unwilling, to utter a word 
of comment upon the story to which she had been so attentive a 
listener. 

Celine at length arose and said, as she began pacing to and fro 
before the old woman. “ Well, have you anything to say to this?” 

“Yes,” quietly. 

“ Then why don’t you speak out ? Are you horribly shocked ?” 

“No.” 

“No? Well, so much the better !” 


166 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Hagar arose, pushed back her chair, crossed the room, and, 
pulling back the curtain, looked out into the night. Then turn- 
ing her inscrutable old face upon the girl she said, quite calmly: 

“Why should not others measure out to John Arthur the 
same bitter draught that he filled for your mother, years ago? 
Bah! it is only retribution !” 

"True," said the girl, sternly. Then, in a guarded tone: 
“And you would make no attempt to overturn their finely 
laid plans ?” 

“I? No!” fiercely. “You? I thought you wanted re- 
venge.” 

“And so I do, — and will have it.” 

“How, then?” 

“ Will you go to Madame Arthur?” 

“What for?” 

“Ah, now you reason. I will tell you.” 

Hurriedly she unfolded her plan; and after some differences 
of opinion, dame Hagar agreed to play her part in the coming 
drama. Having finally arranged Hagar’s role to their mutual 
satisfaction, Celine hurriedly recounted her day’s adventures, 
saying, by way of finale: 

“So now you see, nursie, I must hasten and send madame’s 
message on its way. I shall depend upon you to tell me if Mr. 
Davlin comes to Bellair to-morrow, for I have a fancy that 
madame will manage, in some way, to prevent his coming to 
the house, as it_was fully settled that he was not to appear at 
Oakley until summoned to his sister’s sick-bed.” 

“I can easily learn if he appears at the Bellair station.” 

“Exactly; that is all I wish to know. Now I must go and 
waylay Mr. Percy. So good night, auntie, and cheer up; our 
time is coming fast.” 

“And trouble coming, too; God help us.” 


FACE TO FACE. 


167 


The girl turned upon her swiftly, with flashing eyes. “Are 
you afraid? Do you want to give it up?” 

“I am afraid for you. But give up now; never!” 

“Brave old nursie!” 

The girl flung both arms about the old woman, and kissed 
her withered cheeks. 

“Never fear for me; my star is rising. Don’t forget your 
mission, auntie; good-night.” 

The “ good-night” came back over her shoulder, as the girl 
was hurrying down the cottage steps, and Hagar closed the door 
behind her retreating figure. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

FACE TO FACE. 

It is surprising to note how many pretexts a resolute, hus- 
band-hunting spinster can find for keeping a victim at her side, 
long after his soul lias left her, and gone forth with yearning 
for a downy couch, a fragrant cheroot, or a fairer face. 

Edward Percy could be agreeable, for a reasonable length of 
time, to a very ugly woman. But even he felt himself an in- 
jured man when, at a late hour, he said good-night for the 
eleventh time to his fair enslaver — literally an enslaver, he 
thought. As the door of Oakley manor actually and audibly 
closed behind him, he heaved a sigh of gratification, and strode 
rapidly down the winding avenue. 

When the first group of trees had sheltered him from the view 
of the infatuated spinster, should she still be gazing after him, 


168 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Mr. Percy paused, and standing in the shadow, produced a cigar 
and was proceeding to light it, when a hand fell lightly upon 
his arm, and he turned with a confused idea that she had followed 
him, and was about to lead him back a prisoner. Put the figuie 
that he dimly saw was, certainly, not that of Miss Arthur. 

“ Pardon, monsieur! but I have a message for you/' 

a Ye gods!” ejaculated the aggrieved man. 

Evidently the girl interpreted his thoughts, for she stifled a 
laugh as she said, quickly: ‘iNot from Miss Arthur, monsieur; 
but from madame.” 

“Oh, from madame,” drawing a long breath. “Well, even 
madame will be a blessed relief; out with it, girl.” 

“ Madame will be grateful, I am sure,” said the girl, mock- 
ingly. “Madame desires a word with you — now, to-night. 
Will you follow me?” 

“Where?” 

“To madame; she will be in the terrace arbor directly.” 

“Oh, very well,” replacing his cigar in his pocket; “ lead on, 
then.” 

Celine flitted on before, until the arbor became dimly visible 
down the pathway. Then she paused, pointed it out to her com- 
panion, and said : “ Madame will soon join you there, sir. Now 
I must hasten to my mistress ; I have kept her waiting too long.” 

With a low, mischievous laugh she darted away in the direc- 
tion of the house. 

Percy turned and gazed after her; then followed a few paces 
and watched again, until she disappeared under a wide portico. 
Heaving a sigh of relief he turned back toward the arbor. 

“I want no eavesdropping,” he muttered; “and that minx 
might listen if she had time. She is no more a French maid 
than I am ; she forgot her monsieur just now. But a sham maid 





170 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


is very appropriate for a sham maiden; now for Alice ;” and he 
entered the arbor. # 

Had Mr. Percy been able to follow the retreating footsteps of 
the objectionable French maid, however, he might have found 
occasion to change his opinion of her lack of time for eavesdrop- 
ping, and there was excellent opportunity for its practice about 
the shrubbery-surrounded arbor. 

Meantime Ellen Arthur, having reluctantly bidden her 
“ blonde demigod” a last good-night, sought her chamber, 
swelling with satisfaction, and feeling somewhat hungry. Pass- 
ing the door of her sister-in-law’s rooms, she encountered Sarah, 
the romantic housemaid, who was just entering, bearing wine 
and a tiny glass. Glancing within, she encountered the gaze of 
Cora, who stood holding in her hand some black lace drapery. 

u Horribly late, isn’t it?” yawned that lady, nodding good- 
naturedly. “Set down the wine, Sarah, and then you may go. 
I’m so dismally slumbersome that if I keep you to help me, I 
shall fall asleep on your hands. Have some wine, Ellen?” 

“ No, thanks,” said the spinster. “If you don’t want Sarah, 
she may bring me up a nice lunch as soon as possible. I won’t 
detain you any longer; good-night.” 

And Miss Arthur, who had meditated entering and giving Cora 
the benefit of some of her maiden dreams and fancies, marched 
away, a trifle offended at the manner in which her sleepy sister- 
in-law had anticipated and warded off the interview. Cora’s 
good-night floated after her as she sailed down the corridor. 
Then she heard the door closed and the bolt shot into the socket. 
A little later, the door opened noiselessly, and a female figure 
glided down the dark stairways out into the night, and toward 
the arbor. 


FACE TO FACE. 


171 


“ Celine shall undo my hair/’ Miss Arthur thought, “and I’ll 
have her try that new set of braids and puffs, if it is late. I 
don’t feel as if I could sleep.” 

But Celine was not dutifully waiting in her mistress’s dress- 
ing-room. 

Sarah appeared with the lunch, and offered her services, but 
was summarily dismissed, for Miss Arthur did not deem it wise 
to initiate the house servants into the fearful and wonderful 
mysteries of her toilet. Therefore, she lunched in solitude and 
disgust, but heartily, notwithstanding, having just put off her 
very elaborate, but rather uncomfortable evening dress and donned 
a silken gown, acting as her own maid. 

Then she fidgeted herself into a most horrible temper, and sat 
deliberately down before the grate in a capacious dressing-chair, 
determined to wait until the girl came, and deliver a most severe 
and stately reprimand, the exact words of which she had already 
determined upon. 

The lady, sitting thus with her feet on the fender, her hands 
comfortably clasping the big arms of the dressing chair, and her 
head lolling rather ungracefully over its back, fell into slumber. 

If Mrs. John Arthur had made a midnight appointment with 
Lucifer, she would have fortified herself for the encounter by 
making a “stunning” toilet. It was one of her fixed principles 
— she had fixed principles — never to permit friend or foe of the 
male persuasion to gaze upon her charms when they would show 
at a disadvantage. So when she entered the arbor, which was 
suffused with a soft moonlight glow from a heavily-shaded 
lamp, for the arbor stoqsUmong dense shrubbery, and but for 
this lamp would have been in Egyptian darkness, she was indeed 
a personification of loveliness. 


172 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Ungracious as was his mood, Percy would not have been a 
beauty-adoring mortal if he had not paid involuntary tribute to 
the charms of the woman who was his bitterest foe. Gazing 
down upon her a moment, he said in his soft legato: 

“ I am almost angry at you for being so beautiful, after hav- 
ing taken yourself to other lovers, Ma belle” 

The woman smiled triumphantly, as she threw herself into an 
easy chair, and said in her softest, sweetest tone : “And did you 
expect me to go mourning for you all these years, sit?” 

.“ I don’t think you were ever the woman to do that;” drop- 
ping lazily into a rustic seat near her. “May I smoke?” 

Cora nodded. 

“Are you sure we are quite safe here?” looking about him. 
“Somehow, I am suspicious of that sharp French maid.” 

“Quite sure,” nodding again. “Mr. Arthur was in bed be- 
fore I came out; Miss Arthur was ordering up a lunch to her 
room, and the French maid must needs be in attendance for an 
houi 01 more; and besides, I know she is not at all dangerous. 
None of the other servants ever have occasion to come here, and 
most of them are in bed by now.” 

So your charming sister-in-law eats, does she? After part- 
ing from me, too ; ugh !” 

“Eats? I should think so,” laughing softly; “in her own 
room, when her stays are not too tight.” 

“Spare me!” 

He held up both hands in mock deprecation ; then, dropping 
his bantering tone, said, as he puffed at his cigar: 

“ But now to business. You did not come out here in such 
bewitching toilet to tell me that mymdiarmer eats?” 

“ Hardly,” with a pretty shrug. 

“For what, then?” 


FACE TO FACE. 


173 


“To come to an understanding with you,” coolly. 

“ As how ?” in the same tone. 

“As to our future standing with each other.” 

“ I thought that was settled to-day ?” 

“Did you? I don’t think it was settled.” 

“Well, what remains, fair Alice?” 

“Will you drop that name?” 

“For the present, yes; but with reluctance.” 

“Oh, certainly!” bitterly. “ Now, what are we to be hence- 
forth?” 

“Friends, of course,” knocking the ashes oifhis cigar. 

“You and I may be allies; we can never be friends,” she said, 
scornfully. 

“Don’t trouble yourself to be insulting, Mrs. — a — Arthur.” 

“Then don’t make me remember how I have hated you!” 

“Have you really hated me? How singular.” 

“Very!” sarcastically; then: “If you don’t 'drop that dis- 
agreeable tone we shall quarrel. I wish to know what you want 
with Ellen Arthur.” 

“ Shade of my grandmother ! If you don’t drop that disagree- 
able name, I shall expire. Haven’t I had enough of her for 
one day? Alice, I know revenge is sweet, but spare me.” 

“Bother! I must talk about her, else how can we settle any- 
thing? Do you suppose I am going to allow that sweet girl to 
be deceived?” This with mock indignation. 

“Oh, no; certainly not! Well, if I must, I must. First, 
then — ” 

“First, what position do you intend to take towards me?” 

“That depends upon yourself.” 

“On conditions?” 

“On conditions.” 

“Name them.” 


174 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“I am to be received as an honored guest whenever I shall 
choose to visit Oakley .” 

“Well.” 

“ Next, you are to do all in your power to further my suit 
with Miss— you know.” 

“That’s an easy task.” 

“ Lastly, you are to promise me not, now or at any future time, 
to declare to any one aught you may know that might be to my 
disadvantage.” 

“ That is to say, I am not to tell Ellen Arthur, or others, that 
you have two wives — ” 

“Softly; one, my dear, one. Mrs. Percy Jordan, number one, 
is dead; you alone are left. You see, Alice, my dear, the thing 
is reversed. You have two husbands now, while I — ” 

“Will have two wives as soon as you can get them!” 

“Just so.” 

“ And what guarantee have I that you will not betray me to 
Mr. Arthur?” 

“The very best in the world; mutual interest.” 

Cora pondered. “ I don’t see but that you are right,” she 
said, at last. “ It certainly will not be to your interest to attempt 
to annoy me now, but how long is this truce to last?” looking at 
him keenly. 

Percy smoked away in tranquil silence. 

“Of course, I understand what you mean by a marriage with 
Miss Arthur,” scornfully. “How long will it take you to 
squander her dollars? And after that, what will you do?” 

“ Question for question, fair cross examiner ; how long do you 
intend remaining so quietly here, the bond slave of this idiotic 
old man? And what will you do when this play is played out?” 

“ Because I ran away from a profligate young husband, who 


FACE TO FACE. 


175 


had decoyed me into an illegal marriage — illegal for me, but 
sufficiently binding to have put you in the penitentiary for a 
bi— ” 

“Don’t ^y it, my dear; don’t. It’s an ugly word, and, after 
all, are we not both in the same boat?” 

“No,” angrily. “Do you think I have been so poorly 
schooled during these years that you can make me think now that 
you have any hold upon me? Bah! your case is but a flimsy 
one. When you deceived me into a marriage with you, you 
had already another wife. You hid me away in a suburban 
box of a cottage, fancying I would be content, like a bird in a 
gilded cage. You never dreamed that meek little I would fol- 
low you, and find out from the woman’s own lips that she had 
a prior claim upon you!” 

“ Candidly, I didn’t credit you with so much pluck,” said 
Percy, coolly. 

“No! and when I charged you with your perfidy, and wept 
and upbraided you, and then became pacified when you told me 
that every proof of your marriage with that other was in your 
control, you did not dream that I would feign submission until 
I had gained possession of the proofs of both your marriages, 
and then run away?” 

“And succeed in baffling my search for ten long years,” sup- 
plemented he, grandiloquently. “ No, fair dame, I did not.” 

“Your search, indeed! It was not a very eager one.” 

“Well, in truth it was not. The fact is, your beauty en- 
trapped me into that very foolish marriage ; but I was a trifle 
weary of blonde loveliness in tears, etc., so I didn’t get out the 
entire police force, you see.” 

“ And you wouldn’t have found me if you had.” 

“Indeed! why not?” 


176 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Because, if it will afford you any satisfaction to know at 
this late stage of the game, I sailed for Europe the very day I 
quitted your house.” 

“No!” opening his eyes in genuine astonishment. “Had it 
all cut and dried? Well, I like that ! Why, little woman, if 
you had only developed one half the pluck latent in you, be- 
fore you flitted, I would never have given you ‘ just cause/ etc., 
for leaving me.” 

The woman smiled triumphantly, but made no other answer. 

“Well, what next? I am really becoming interested in your 
career.” 

“Sorry I can’t gratify your curiosity. My career has been a 
very pleasant one — seeing the world ; generally prosperous. 
And this brings me back to the starting point: why should you 
think, because I left you with good cause, ten years ago, that I 
must necessarily forsake, sooner or later, a husband who is 
kindness itself, and who leaves no wish of mine ungratified?” 

“First reason,” checking them off on his fingers: “Because 
you don’t love this old man, and love is the only bond that 
such women as you will not break.” 

“Thanks!” ironically, bending her head. 

“Second, because a dull country house, be it ever so elegant, 
will not long satisfy you as an abiding place. I have not for- 
gotten your girlish taste for pomp, pageant and all manner of 
excitement; a taste that has doubtless become fully developed 
by now. Third, because you have, at this present moment, a 
lover whom you prefer above all others, and to whom you will 
flee sooner or later.” 

“Perhaps you can substantiate that statement,” sneered 
Cora. 

“Well, not exactly; but I know women. My dear, say 


FACE TO FACE. 


] 77 


what you please to me, but don’t expect to be believed if you 
will insist upon doing the devoted wife.” 

“I insist upon nothing,” said Cora, rising, " and I have not 
time for many more words. Let us come to the point at once: 
With my life, after I left you, you have nothing to do; you 
know nothing of it now, and you will learn no more from me. 
Of you, I know this much. I know that v< i. < h ng, after your 
fashion, to the skirts of your unfortunate wile, spending her in- 
come and making her life miserable. 1 know that six years 
ago you inherited a fortune from a distant relative. I know 
that from that time you utterly neglected your wife, who had 
been an invalid for years ; and that soon after she died, heart- 
broken and alone.” 

Percy turned upon her, and scrutinized her face keenly; then, 
coming close to her, said, meaningly: "And then I wonder that 
you did not come back to me.” 

For a moment the woman seemed confused, and off her guard. 
But she had not sought an interview with this man without fully 
reviewing her ground. 

"I had ceased to care for you,” she said, lifting her unflinch- 
ing eyes to his face; "and I did not need your money. Come, 
enough of the past ; you have squandered your fortune, and now 
you want another. You want to put yourself still more into my 
power by marrying a third wife — so be it; I consent.” 

" Not so fast. You are first to promise me to place in my 
hands, on my 'marriage morn/ those unpleasant little documents 
which *you hold against me. In return for which you will re- 
ceive a sum of money, the amount of said sum to be hereafter 
arranged. Then we go our separate ways.” 

"And if I refuse?” 

"Then, painful as it is, I must do my duty. You are to 

12 


178 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


give me your answer when I return to Bellair; no time for 
tricks, mind. If the answer is no, then I interview Mr. John 
Arthur.” 

“ And you return ? — ” 

“The day after to-morrow.” 

“Then you shall have my answer. Until then — ” 

She swept him a stately courtesy, which he returned with a 
most elaborate bow. 

Without another word from either, they separated ; she glid- 
ing swiftly and silently toward the house, he going once more in 
the direction of Bellair village. 

How long she had slept it never afterward occurred to Miss 
Arthur to inquire. Something recalled her from the land of 
visions, and starting up in her chair she saw Celine, standing 
demurely before her, her face wreathed in smiles, and no signs 
of any uncanny adventure lingering about her. 

Beholding her safe and sound Miss Arthur began to pour out 
upon the luckless head of Celine, the vials of wrath prepared 
for her benefit. 

The girl listened with a face indicative of some secret source 
of amusement. Noting her look of evident unconcern, and the 
laughter she seemed vainly striving to keep under, Miss Arthur 
brought her tirade to an abrupt termination, and demanded to 
know what Miss Celine Leroque saw, in her appearance, that 
was so very ludicrous. 

Whereupon Miss Celine Leroque dropped upon a hassock, at 
the feet of her irate mistress, and laughed outright — actually 
laughed unreservedly, in the presence and despite the rage of the 
ancient maiden! 

Then observing that she was preparing another burst of wrath, 



“Then you shall have my answer. Until then— ’’—page 178. 

179 


hn 














180 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


the girl appeared to be struggling for composure, and vainly en* 
deavoring to articulate something, of which Miss Arthur could 
only catch the name, “ Mr. Percy.” Thereupon she fairly bounced 
out of her chair, demanding to know “ what on earth” Mr. 
Percy had to do with her maid’s reprehensible conduct. 

“ Oh, mademoiselle, everything !” gasped Celine. “ Only let 
me explain, and mademoiselle will laugh, too. Oh, Mon dieu } 
Mon dieu /” 

Calming herself by a violent effort, Celine told her story, and 
its magic dispelled the wrath of her much neglected, sorely ag- 
grieved mistress. Such a pretty little story it was, interspersed 
with sly looks, knowing nods, and rippling bursts of laughter. 
Listened to with, first, disdainful silence; then, growing inter' 
est; last, spasmodic giggles, apropos ejaculations, and much 
blushing and maidenly confusion. 

“You see, mademoiselle, after you had gone down, I went to 
my room, to take just a few little stitches upon some of my poor 
garments, that I must wear to-morrow. I don’t know how it 
was, but I sat on my bedside thinking, after it was done, and 
fell off asleep.” 

“Off the bed?” 

“Oh! no, no, mademoiselle; off into sleep, I mean. When I 
awoke I was anxious to know how much time I had slept away, 
and came down to your apartments. You were still in the 
drawing-room, and I passed on to the kitchen, surprised to find 
that it was very late. “I will hasten,” I thought, “and can so 
go to the village, and telegraph my sister before my mistress 
rings for me; for I didn’t think,” with a sly look, “that you 
would be at liberty very early in the evening. The— what you 
name him? — a — operateur, was out, and I had to wait a little 
time. Coming back so late, I became afraid of the woods, and 



“O, Mademoiselle, every thing I” gasped Celine. —page 180. 

181 




182 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


took the path along the highway. Entering at the front and 
coming up the avenue, I was about to pass around by the east 
walk to the side entrance when, — 77 stifling a laugh. 

“ W ell ?” impatiently. 

“ When the front door opened and I, standing in the shadow, 
saw the light fall upon the face and figure of Monsieur Percy/ 7 

“Yes; go on/ 7 

“I mention this, mademoiselle, only to show you how I know 
so positively that it was monsieur who — oh! oh!’ 7 laughing 
again softly. 

“Who? 77 with increased impatience; “who did what, girl? 77 
eyeing her suspiciously. 

Celine composed herself and continued : “ Seeing monsieur, 
I stopped, for I did not wish him to discover me abroad so late. 
So I stood in the thick shade until he should have passed. He 
came slowly toward me and, just about four paces from my 
hiding-place, paused, turned and looked back at the house. I 
could see him gazing toward the upper windows, and presently 
I saw your shadow upon the blind as you entered your dressing- 
room. The light shone out from your window, too ; and after 
looking for a while, I heard him murmur to himself : ‘ That 
must be her window; I believe I am bewitched, for I can 7 tbear 
to lose its light, 7 and then — 77 

“Stop laughing, you ridiculous girl ! And what then ? 77 

“And then, mademoiselle, he began walking up and down 
within sight of your window — 77 

“Ah! 77 rapturously. 

“Oui; and I — oh, mademoiselle, he was in the very path 
that I must take to approach the side entrance. And he 
walked and walked, and I waited and waited. Then 1 thought 
I would try getting around by the other way, and creep up 


FACE TO FACE. 


183 


carefully from the terrace. So I crept along to the other side, 
back of the arbor, and up the terrace, and managed to reach 
the entrance unseen. Mon Dieu, mademoiselle, the door was 
locked! I was shut out! What was I to do then? I sat me 
down in the shadow of the portico and waited once more. 
After a terribly long time I could see that he was not moving 
up and down. I peeped cautiously, and he seemed to be de- 
parting. Then I came out stealthy as a cat, and found that he 
was going away, and the reason — ” 

“ The reason ?” 

“Oui, mademoiselle; the light in your room had disappeared.” 

“ Disappeared!” 

“Oui, mademoiselle. Then I bethought me there might yet 
be a chance. I came up to the front entrance and tried the door. 
It was not locked. My heart leaped for joy. I blessed the 
carelessness of the servants, and stole cautiously in. I came 
to this room. All was dark; but the coals there showed me 
your figure in the chair. I could not mistake the graceful out- 
lines of mademoiselle. I entered very quietly, relighted your 
lamp — some little breeze must have flared it out while you 
slept. I was looking at you, and wondering what you would 
say if you knew how nearly crazy with love you had driven 
that stately, handsome Monsieur Percy, when you awoke.” 

It is needless to say that, long before Celine had finished 
her recital, her mistress was in the best of humors. Indeed, 
Celine’s volubly uttered, intensely flattering, highly probable 
recital, had an exhilarating effect upon her; so much so, that 
the lady found sleep now quite impossible. So poor Celine was 
doomed, after all, to build the new braids and puffs into a won- 
derful edifice upon the head of Miss Arthur, and to repeat over 
and again the sweet story of “how he loved her.” 


184 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


The “wee sma’ ” hours were beginniugto lengthen once more 
when Celine was released from duty, and went wearily up to 
her room; wearily, yet with undimmed eyes, and the mischiev- 
ous dimples still lurking about the corners of her mouth. 

She muttered : “ Bah ! it is better than sleep, after all ; if only 
the others were as easily duped as she!” 

By which words, a listener might have been led to suppose 
that Celine Leroque had been practising deception upon some 
confiding individual. 


CHAPTER XVII. 

GATHERING CLUES. 

Claire had been absent all the morning, had gone to make 
some call; at least she had said to Olive, at breakfast, “I 
think I will take the ponies, Olive, and drive into the city this 
morning. It is nice out of doors, and I have made no calls since 
I came here.” 

Olive Girard sat alone in her cosy drawing-room. She had 
been reading, but the book was somehow not in tune with her 
mind or mood. She had allowed it to fall at her feet, where it 
lay, half opened, while she drifted away from the present in sor- 
rowful reverie. Lifting her eyes, she saw a cab drive away from 
the villa gate, and a form hurrying along the marble pathway. 
Springing up, Olive herself threw open the door, and clasped 
her arms about — Miss Arthur’s French maid ! who returned the 
caress with much enthusiasm. 

“ Madeline, my dear child, how glad I am to see you !” 

“Even in this disguise?” laughed the girl. 


GATHERING CLUES. 


185 


“Even in blue glasses, and that horrid jacket,” smiled Olive. 
“ What an ugly thing it is. Come and take it off, mci belle ; do,” 
leading the way up the stairs. 

“I come, autocrat, aud I shall much enjoy getting out of this 
head-gear,” shaking her bewigged head. Then abruptly, 
“ Where’s Claire ?” 

“Out for a drive and some calls,” without looking back. 
“ How surprised and glad she will be to see you. Now, come 
in and make a lady of yourself once more.” She led the way 
into Madeline’s room. “Are you tired, dear?” 

“Not at all.” 

“Then come into my boudoir when you are dressed, and we 
will have a cosy chat while waiting for Claire.” 

“ I won’t be long,” responded the girl. “ I have a good many 
things to say to you, which had better be said before Claire 
comes.” 

“Very well; I await your ladyship,” and Olive closed the 
door, leaving Miss Arthur’s maid alone. 

“ I thought so,” muttered she, tearing off the blue glasses ; 
“she has gone to meet Edward Percy. Poor dupe! it is indeed 
time to act.” 

She discarded the ill-fitting jacket, flung away the ugly black 
wig, and, in a very few moments, stood arrayed in a pretty, 
neatly fitting gown, glowing and lovely, — Madeline Payne once 
more. 

“I wonder if I shall see or hear of him ,” she whispered to 
herself as she crossed to Olive’s boudoir. “Oh, if 1 could! It 
would be one ray of sunlight only to clasp his hand !” 

Olive had been informed of all that Madeline herself knew, 
of the doings at Bellair, at the time when the girl went down, 
disguised as Celine Leroque. Now, therefore, Madeline lost no 


186 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


time in making Olive acquainted with, at least a part of, the 
events that had transpired during her sojourn in the Oakley 
mansion, in the capacity of maid. Of Edward Percy she said 
not a word, for reasons of her own, wishing to keep all knowl- 
edge of him from Olive for the present. 

“ You see, I was just in time, Olive,” she supplemented, when 
Mrs. Girard had expressed her astonishment at the startling 
revelations of the past four weeks. “ I had not an hour to lose in 
setting my snare for these plotters. They little dream what is 
in store for them. Poor Kitty ! I feel like a wretch when I 
think of the advantage I took of her, by making her poor dead 
body a weapon, as one might say, against a villain whom she 
would never have lifted a finger to injure in her life. But I 
could see no other way. Do you know, Olive, they are going 
to erect a stone over her, bearing my name?” 

Olive looked up in surprise. “No! is it possible?” 

“Yes, quite. I fancy John Arthur thinks he will feel more 
thoroughly assured of my demise, when he can see my name on 
a marble slab.” 

“Now, tell me what especial purpose brought you up to town 
to-day.” 

Madeline moved restlessly in her chair. “A medley,” she 
said, laughing uneasily. “ A woman’s reason ; things being quiet, 
I wanted recreation, and to tell you of my success thus far. 
Then, a detective’s reason ; to get from you some information 
bearing upon your own affairs, as connected with Lucian Davlin. 
Then I want to see Dr. Vaughan, in his professional capacity. 
But mind, Olive, not a word to him of my discoveries just yet.” 

“ Certainly not, if you do not wish it.” 

And this was all the mention made by either of Clarence 
Vaughan. 


GATHERING CLUES. 


187 


“You see/’ began Madeline, after a brief silence, “Mrs. John 
Arthur and her quondam brother, hold occasional private inter- 
views. As they generally prove interesting, I make it a point 
to be present whenever possible. Now, from some chance words 
dropped at different times, I have been led to think that if I 
were more fully informed in regard to this Percy, I might find 
the missing link. Indeed, I may tell you I have found a clue, 
just the shadow of something that, if I could develop it, might 
prove of wonderful value to both of us.” 

“Oh! if you could find out anything that would throw light 
upon this dark wrong they have done Philip, these men — ” 

“Well, Olive, I think we may hope. Now, may I begin to 
cross-question you ?” 

Olive smiled sadly. “Go on, my little lawyer.” 

“First, then, were you personally acquainted with this Percy?” 

“No.” 

“You have seen him?” 

“At the trial; yes.” 

“Describe him.” 

“A blonde man, handsome, some would call him, with a soft, 
languid voice. I did not observe further.” 

“Would you know him if you saw him again?” 

“ Certainly. His was a rather uncommon face, and then the 
association — ” 

“Just so,” interrupting her; “and would he know you?” 

“ I think not. I was heavily veiled, by Philip’s order.” 

“Now, try to recall all that Philip has told you of this man.” 

“They were college students together. Philip said that Percy 
was indolent and vain, and too fond of female society of any sort 
or grade. He made wonderful progress in such studies as he 
chose to apply himself to, and, had he been less of a sybarite, 


188 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


might have obtained high rank as a scholar. But he was er- 
ratic, full of queer conceits, and never made himself popular 
with either professors or students.” 

“ Social standing not good, eh? Now, as to his finances.” 

Olive looked somewhat surprised at this question, but replied : 
“His parents were not well to do, but he was a favorite with 
a rich old uncle, who paid his college expenses and made him a 
liberal allowance. However, he fell into disgrace just before his 
class graduated, and his uncle cast him off. He never took his 
degree.” 

“What was the occasion of his disgrace?” 

“Some scandalous affair with a mechanic’s daughter; the 
particulars I did not learn.” 

“ Of course not. They are of no consequence. This happened 
how long ago?” 

Olive mused. “Philip is now thirty-three; this was twelve 
years ago.” 

“Good ! Hid he hear of Mr. Percy after that?” 

“ Yes ; in less than a year, he married a wealthy woman; ten 
years his senior, and a widow, so it was reported. Percy, it is 
said, denied this marriage, and continued to live and go and 
come, like a bachelor. If the marriage ever occurred, it was 
kept, for some reason, very much under the rose. Be this as it 
may, Percy was always provided with money from some source. 
He used to gamble sometimes, but was not an habitual gamester. 
Philip said he was too much of a sybarite and ladies’ man to be 
wedded to such sports.” 

“Yet he played with Lucian Havlin, and lost heavily 0 ” 

“True.” 

“Well, is this all you have to tell of Mr. Percy?” 

“Not quite. About a year before the catastrophe of the hunt- 


GATHERING CEUES. 


189 


ing party, the uncle who had cared for him during his col- 
lege career, died. Percy inherited his wealth, the old man, 
after all, making his will in favor of his graceless nephew.” 
Olive paused for a moment, then added, “I believe that is all I 
can tell you of this man. I have not seen or heard of him since 
poor Philip was sent to prison.” 

Madeline sat gazing abstractedly into the grate fire, her hands 
clasped in her lap, working restlessly, as was their habit, when 
she was thinking deeply. Suddenly a sharp exclamation broke 
from her lips, and Olive turned towards her a look of surprised 
inquiry. But Madeline was clasping and unclasping her hands 
nervously, with eye-lashes lowered, and brow knitted in a frown. 

“ Olive,” she said, after a long cogitation, “you have put into 
my hands another thread, a very valuable one. Don’t ask me 
any questions now ; I want to get my ideas in shape.” 

Olive’s face wore an anxious look, but she had learned the 
lesson of patient waiting, so she quietly acquiesced, and then a 
long silence fell between them. 

Madeline resumed the conversation, or rather recommenced it. 
She made no further mention of that part of the subject nearest 
the heart of Olive Girard. She made inquiries as to affairs and 
recent events at the village, talked of Claire, and finally said: 

“Olive, I want you to go out with me during the day, and 
perhaps we had better go early. I must return to Bellair by to- 
morrow morning’s train, you know.” 

“Yes; and I am sorry that you stay with us such a very short 
time. Where do you intend going, Madeline?” 

“To a detective,— that is, if you will repeat your generous 
offer, which I so cavalierly declined not long ago, to be my 
banker for an indefinite time.” 

“Gladly, dear child; now you are beginning to be sensible. 


190 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


But the detective, — may I venture to inquire?” with assumed 
hesitation. 

“You may,” laughed Madeline. “And don’t give me credit 
for all the ingenuity. True, I have racked my poor feminine 
brain and feminine instinct, coupled with the knowledge ob- 
tained by some keen experience with Treachery, Despair, and 
Hate. These grim but very efficient instructors have aided me 
materially, simple, inexperienced girl as I was so recently — or so 
long ago, as it seems to me. And good old Aunt Hagar, who 
has been in this woful world many years — years full of vicissi- 
tudes and sharp life-lessons — is my counsellor and adviser. She 
aids me greatly with her shrewdness, and knowledge of the world 
and the folk in it. So we have discussed this point together and 
concluded that, in order to leave no loopholes open in our nice 
little net, we had better have the movements of Mr. Lucian 
Davlin closely watched while he is in the city.” 

“ To discover-^-” 

“Who he calls upon, and what manner of man he will choose 
to assume the role of * physician from Europe/ etc. Without 
putting the full facts of the case into the hands of the officer, we 
will arrange to know all about the man who will help Davlin 
carry out their last scheme. No train shall leave the city on 
which he would, by any possibility, set out for Bellair accom- 
panied by this sham physician, without the knowledge of our 
man, or men, of skill. All discoveries made are to be reported, 
thiough you, to Mademoiselle Celine Leroque, who will receive 
said reports in propria persone , at the Bellair post-office. Then 
I must proffer a request, that Doctor Vaughan will hold him- 
self in readiness to come to Oakley, should I find it necessary to 
summon him, accompanied by another physician, or not, as shall 
be hereafter decided,” 


THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP. 


191 


“I don’t just see how all this is to end, but these two steps 
appear to me to be in the right direction. I am ready to under- 
take your commissions, and to act as your banker to the fullest 
extent of your needs.” 

After a few more words they decided that, as Claire did not 
return, and time was precious, they would order a carriage im- 
mediately after luncheon, and pay a visit to the detective forth- 
with. Accordingly, half an hour earlier than usual, a light re- 
past was served, and sparingly partaken of. Then having left 
a message for Miss Keith, who was momentarily expected, the 
two friends drove into the city. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP WIELDS TllE SURGEON’S KNIFE. 

Returning two hours later, they found Claire impatiently 
waiting their arrival, radiantly beautiful, and overflowing with 
joy at sight of her beloved Madeline. 

“ You delightfully horrible girl !” she exclaimed, after greet- 
ings had been exchanged, and they had all seated themselves in 
the drawing-room. “To think that you are growing more 
lovely every day, and that you go and hide all your beauty under 
an old fright of a wig, nasty blue spectacles, and deformities of 
jackets! I declare, it’s too bad ! And then to wait on an old 
spinster who wears no end of false hair, and false teeth, and 
false—” 

“Puzzled already. So much for not being a lady’s maid; 
Now, 1 can enumerate every ‘ falsehood’ assumed by that lady.” 


192 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Then Madeline gave a ludicrous description of Miss Arthur 
and her peculiarities, causing even grave Olive to laugh heartily, 
and Claire to exclaim that she should watch the advertisements, 
and try playing ladies’ maid herself. 

Madeline once more recounted, in brief, the state of affairs 
now existing at Oakley, or as much as she had told Olive, 
during which recital impulsive Claire kept up a running fire of 
comments, indicative of surprise, indignation, disgust, and very 
one-sided interest. 

“T never heard of such a nest of vultures,” she exclaimed, 
excitedly, when Madeline had completed her story. “Why, 
it’s worse than a chapter out of a French drama. Goodness 
gracious, Madeline Payne, I only wish I could help you deal 
out justice to these wretches! Where is my fairy godmother 
now, that she don’t come and convert me into a six-foot 
brother, to take some of this burden out of your little weak 
hands?” 

“Not so weak as you may think, you little warrior. These 
hands,” holding them up to view, “have a very strong cause, 
let me tell you — and you think you would like to help me?” 
laughing oddly. 

“Wouldn’t I!” with a fierce nod that made her two com- 
panions laugh again. 

The afternoon was wearing away, and Madeline began to 
grow restless, at finding no opportunity for saying a word in 
private to Claire. At last fortune favored her. Olive, seeing 
her gardener digging about a little summer-house, which was a 
favorite retreat on a warm afternoon, bethought herself of a 
plan for adding to its comfort, by laying down certain vines, 
etcetera, for next season’s growing. So she bade the girls note 
how she should have improved her arbor by another season, 



“You delightfully horrible girl 1” — page 191.’ 


193 . 





194 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


and hurried out to begin an argument, that from previous ex- 
perience she knew would be hotly contested. 

This was Madeline’s opportunity. And as soon as Olive was 
out of hearing, she turned to Claire saying: 

“ Claire, I have not told you, nor Olive, all that I have dis- 
covered. For reasons, which you will understand later, I have 
thought it best to make them known to you first. We must in- 
vent some excuse for absenting ourselves from the parlor for a 
while.” 

Claire looked grave and somewhat startled for an instant, but 
recovering her composure she said, simply: "I am at your dis- 
posal, dear.” 

“ I think I had better go to my room and lie down,” mean- 
ingly. “ Tell Olive, when she comes in, that I feel fatigued, 
and have gone to my room to rest. Then you had better plead 
letters to write, and follow me. Can you manage it ?” 

“ Easily,” smiled Claire. “ Why, Bonnie Aileen, this be- 
comes more and more mysterious and interesting.” 

“Wait before you pass judgment ; now I am gone.” 

Madeline quitted the drawing-room and sauntered leisurely 
up-stairs. • 

When Olive reappeared, Claire carried out the littb programme, 
as arranged, and hastened to join Madeline, musing as she went: 

“What could have induced that odd darling to confide in 
stupid little me, while she leaves wise, thoughtful Olive in the 
dark?” 

Madeline was pacing the floor when Claire entered the room. 
She motioned her to a chair, and pushed the bolt in the door, 
thus rendering intrusion impossible. 

“ What can you be thinking of, Madeline, with that gloomy 
face?” exclaimed Claire, nestling into an easy chair as she spoke. 


THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP. 


195 


“ I am thinking, Claire,” replied Madeline, gazing down at 
her sadly, “of the first time I ever saw your sister, and of the 
errand on which she came to me. How full of hope I was that 
morning! How radiant the day seemed, and how confident I 
was of happiness to come; as confident as you are to-day, Claire, 
darling.” 

There was something in Madeline’s tone that sounded almost 
like pity, as she uttered these last words. Claire started and 
colored, but still was silent. 

“Olive did a brave, generous deed, but at that time I almost 
hated her for it,” musingly. 

“Oh, no, Madeline,” interposed Claire, “you don’t mean 
just that, I am sure. You never really hated our noble, un- 
happy Olive.” 

“I felt very wicked, I assure you,” smiling faintly. Then, 
abruptly: “How should you have felt, similarly placed?” 

“I?” wonderingl-y; “mercy! I can’t tell.” 

“Claire, think,” in a tone almost of entreaty. “I want to 
know — I must know.” 

“You must know? Why, Madeline?” 

“Because — because I want to find out what is in you; how 
strong you are.” 

Claire looked more and more mystified. “State your case, 
then,” she said, quietly. “ I will try and analyze myself.” 

“ Good ; now, Claire Keith, suppose that you love some man 
very much, and you trust him without knowing why, for no 
other reason than that you love him. When you are happiest, 
because you have but just parted from your lover — ” 

Claire started and colored a little. 

“When you are thinking of the time, not far away, when 
you shall not part from him any more — suppose that just then 


196 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


I, a friend whom you have loved, come to you and say: ‘This 
hero of yours is false; he is a two-faced villain; he has deceived 
you; he is not honorable; he will betray you if he can/ What 
would you answer me?” 

Claire lifted her head proudly. “ I would make you take back 
every word you had uttered, or prove it beyond the shadow of 
a doubt !” 

“And if I proved it?” 

“Then I would thank you; and hate myself for having been 
deceived, and him for having deceived me.” 

“Would you grieve for him, Claire?” 

Quick as thought came the answer: 

“Grieve for him! No; I could no more love a liar and a 
villain than I could caress a viper ! I tell you, Madeline, I un- 
derstand your feelings when you say that you hate Lucian 
Davlin,” shuddering. 

“And you would not hate me also for rudely undeceiving you?” 

“Hate my best friend; my benefactor? No!” 

“I am thankful!” 

“ But, Madeline, what does all this mean ? Is this what you 
wanted to say to me? What can my feelings have to do with 
your case ?” 

“Claire,” — Madeline’s face was very sad again — “this case is 
our case.” -' 

“ Our case ?” 

“Yes, ours; Olive’s, yours, mine/ And now I am going to 
test your strength.” 

Claire did not look very strong just then. 

“ You saw Edward Percy to-day.” 

Claire Keith sprang to her feet. “ How do you know that ? 
And what has he to do with the case?” 


THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP. 


197 


“ I know it because we, Mr. Percy and myself, came to this 
city by the same train, and I could easily surmise that his busi- 
ness here was with you.” 

“Well?” haughtily. 

“Ah!” sadly; “you are almost angry with me now. But 
listen, Claire. Are you perfectly familiar with all the facts con- 
nected with poor Philip Girard’s sad disgrace?” 

“ I think so,” coldly. 

“You know that he was convicted upon the testimony of 
Lucian Davlin and another ?” 

“ Yes.” 

“Do you recall the name of the man who was wounded, so 
said the jury, by Mr. Girard ?” 

Up sprang Claire, her eyes blazing. “ Madeline,” she cried, 
“I see what you are coming at. You have got into your head 
the ridiculous idea that this man Percy and Edward Percy are 
the same. It is absurd !” 

“Why?” 

“Because — because it is /” Then, as if the matter were quite 
settled, “why, he must have been in Europe at the time.” 

“Claire, you are getting angry with me, and I have a long 
story to tell you. But there is an easy way to settle this matter. 
Are you willing to let me take the picture you have of Edward 
Percy, and accompany me into Olive’s presence while I ask her 
if she ever saftv the original?” 

Nothing else could have so effectually quenched Claire s wrath. 
She saw that Madeline had some strong reason for her strange 
words. Sitting down with paling cheeks and trembling limbs, 
she thought. Then looking across at Madeline, she said, 
wearily : 

“ I can’t understand you at all, Madeline. It never once oc- 


198 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


curred to me to connect the man who brought all that trouble 
upon poor Philip with my Edward Percy. It does not seem 
possible that they could be the same. I had supposed the other 
Percy to be man like — like Davlin.” 

“My dear, did you ever see Davlin?” 

“No.” 

“And you have fancied him a sort of handsome horse jockey, 
and this Percy one of the same brotherhood ?” 

“Perhaps;” smiling a little. 

“ Claire, Lucian Davlin is an Apollo in person, a courtier in 
manner, and a Mephistopheles at heart. And Percy is an 
abridgement of Davlin.” 

“I can’t see,” said Claire, rather frostily, “even if Edward 
Percy is the man who was wounded by some unknown person 
five years^a^o^why he must of necessity be a villain and a de- 
ceiver. It would be very, very unpleasant, of course, to find 
that such were the case. But I could not hate Edward Percy 
for that, even if the fact must separate us.” 

“ Claire, Edward Percy is not only the man who helped send 
your sister’s husband to prison, but he is a villain doubly per- 
jured; a deceiver, a betrayer. If justice ever gets her due he 
will end his days in the penitentiary.” 

Then, seeing that Claire was about to speak : “Let me finish ; 
now you shall have your proof.” 

She recounted all there was to tell, from the day when Claire 
showed her the picture and she distrusted the face, to the present 
moment. 

Claire Keith listened in immovable silence; not a muscle 
quivered. For many minutes after Madeline had finished her 
recital, she sat staring straight before her, like a statue. At 
length she arose and crossed to the door, drew back the bolt 


THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP. 


199 


with a steady hand, pu$ up a warning finger, and said, in a voice 
like frozen silver: “Wait;” then disappeared. 

Madeline scarcely had time to wonder what she meant, before 
Claire was back, standing before her, calm and cold as an ice- 
berg. She held in her hand the picture of Edward Percy, 
with the face turned away, and this she extended to Madeline. 

“It is best that we make no mistakes,” she said, quietly; 
“go show that to Olive. Don’t tell her how it came into your 
possession ; ask her if it is he. Then come back to me. ” 

“Shall I tell her — ” began Madeline. 

“Tell her nothing until you have brought me back the 
picture.” 

She pushed her toward the door. 

Madeline walked down-stairs, sorely puzzled, but thinking 
fast. “She fights these facts bravely,” she muttered. “Does 
she doubt, I wonder?” 

Olive was sitting before the window, watching the move- 
ments of John, the gardener, when Madeline entered the parlor. 
Going straight to her, she placed the picture in her hand, and 
said : 

“Do you know that face?” 

Olive Girard gave a startled cry. 

“Madeline, how did you come by this ?” 

“No matter,” calmly; “do you know the picture?” 

“Yes.” 

“Who is he?” 

“ The man who sent my husband to prison — Percy.” 

Madeline took the picture from her hand. “Are you sure?” 

“I could swear to the face after these five years.” 4 

“Thank you, Olive. Now be patient; I must go back to my 
room for a little while. Don’t ask me any questions yet. When 


200 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


I come down I will tell you how I obtained this, and why I 
have talked to you so much of this man.” 

Madeline walked out of the roomfleaving Olive staring after 
her in bewilderment. 

Claire was sitting in the same attitude as when she left her. 
“'Well?” she said, raising her eyes. 

“She recognized it immediately. She would swear that it is 
the man who sent her husband to prison.” 

“Thank you, dear.” 

Glaire took the picture from her hands, and without once 
glancing at it, she bent forward and dropped it into the grate. 

Madeline threw herself on her knees at the girl’s side. “ Oh, 
Claire, Claire! I have made you miserable; forgive me.” 

“What for? You have done me a great service. Do you 
think I want that man’s love?” 

“But Claire—” 

“ I loved an ideal ; that ideal, see ;” pointing to the grate. 
“Do you think I shall cry after a pinch of ashes?” looking her 
full in the face. Then, with a shrug of annoyance. “You have 
roused poor Olive’s curiosity ; she must hear of this miserable 
discovery of ours, or yours — bah,” stamping her foot angrily, 
“my pride is hurt more than my heart!” 

“Your pride need not suffer more than it does already, Claire. 
You have seen me humbled to the dust; see me so still; and 
surely it won’t be so very bitter to think that poor Madeline 
knows that your sunny life has suffered one little shadow. I 
will tell Olive all I know of Edward Percy, save that you have 
ever seen him. The knowledge that he has crossed your path 
can in no way benefit her, or aid us in unmasking him. Evi- 
dently, he does not know that you are in any way connected 
with the fortunes of Philip Girard. Let this rest between us. 



“She bent forward, and dropped it into the grate.”— page 200. 

201 . 



202 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


If this plan suits you, perhaps I had better go and tell my story 
to Olive. I have twice postponed a revelation to-day .” 

“The plan does suit me. Many, many thanks, dear Made- 
line,” said Claire, calmly and gently. .“And now, as I must, 
of course, be supposed to first hear this story after it has been 
told to Olive, or at that time, I would prefer being present when 
you enlighten her. Let us dress for dinner, go down together, 
and — I leave the rest to your tact.” 

Madeline could readily comprehend that it would be easier for 
Claire to sit, with Olive, a listener, than to wait and hear the 
story from the lips of her sister. If it were left to Olive to tell, 
Claire’s face might betray her heart, perhaps. But now, hear- 
ing it from Madeline, and with Olive, whose surprise and dismay 
at the revelation would quite effectually cover up any signs of 
emotion Claire might manifest, the thing did not appear so 
difficult. 

Madeline signified her approval, and they separated to dress 
for dinner. 

Claire Keith made her toilet with swift, firm fingers, and all 
the while she was thinking fiercely, scornfully. She was not 
stunned by the blow that had stricken her love and her pride. 
Rather, it seemed, she was quickened into unusual activity and 
clearness of thought. 

After a time, perhaps, she would feel more the sadness, the 
cruelty, of the hurt; now she felt the outrage to her pride, and 
a fierce self-scorn that she could have ever loved a man so base. 
She hated Edward Percy for having deceived*her, and equally 
she despised herself for having been thus deceived by this 
specious flatterer. 

“You little fool!” she scoffed at her .'mage reflected back from 
her mirror. “You are a very idiot among«idiots! I wonder 


A DUAL RENUNCIATION. 


203 


where are all your high notions now. So,” giving her hair an 
angry jerk, “you perched yourself aloft on a pinnacle, didn’t 
you? You looked down upon all your sisterhood who were 
deceived, or betrayed, or sorrowing; and you wondered how 
women could be so weak ; how they could be deluded by base 
men. You looked upon poor dead Kitty, and wondered what 
was the flaw in her intellect that made her the slave of a 
gambler and a villain. You argued that only an unsophisti- 
cated school girl could be deceived as was poor Madeline. Oh, 
you have been very proud, and very high has been your 
standard of manly worth, Miss Claire Keith ! So high that 
the man who has occupied it might easily slip from that pedestal 
to — Hainan’s gallows !” 

At this point in her tirade, something suspiciously like a sob 
arose in her throat, and checked her utterance. But it did not 
retard her activity, and in a much shorter time than she usually 
spent upon an evening toilet, Miss Keith stood, accoutered and 
defiantly calm, at Madeline’s door. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

A DUAL RENUNCIATION. 

Madeline Payne had lingered over her toilet, pondering the 
incomprehensible manner of Claire Keith. She now stood be- 
fore her mirror, brush in hand, thinking. 

“Not ready yet?” 

If Madeline could believe her eyes, Claire was actually smil- 
ing! 


204 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ I thought you would be waiting for me,” continued Claire, 
composedly, pulling a big chair forward, and sitting down where 
she could look full in Madeline’s face. “But it is just as well; 
there is something that I want to say, before we go down. Why 
don’t you go on with your hair?” 

Madeline’s hand, brush and all, had dropped to her side, and 
she was silently staring at her friend. Without a word she re- 
sumed her employment, looking more at Claire than at her own 
reflected image. 

“You guessed rightly, when you accused me of having seen 
Mr. Percy to-day,” pursued Claire. 

“Accused, Claire?” 

“Well, informed, then. I did see him. He wrote me a 
letter; it was posted at Bellair; you see,” smiling bitterly; 
“that I have no reason for doubting anything you have 
told me.” 

A new light broke over Madeline’s face. “Do you doubt?” 
she asked, quickly. 

“Not one word !” 

“Oh !” drawing a breath of relief. “You were so composed 
I thought — ” 

“That I was hoping to disprove your statements? Not at 
all. And why should I not be composed? Do you think my 
heart could break for such a man?” 

“Hearts don’t break so easily,” said Madeline, gloomily, “but 
they ache sometimes.” 

“Do they?” placing her hand over her heart and smiling 
faintly. “Well, mine don’t ache either, yet; but it burns.” 

Madeline stayed her brush again. “No,” she murmured, 
“it don’t ache yet.” 

Claire made a gesture of impatience. “Oh, I know what 


A DUAL REN UNCI ATIOX. 


205 


you mean, Madeline ! By and by my heart will ache, of course 
— I know that, having discovered, quite recently, that I am 
human. One can’t feel outraged and angry always, and some- 
times, I suppose, my day-dreams will come back and haunt me. 
Well, that is a part of the price we have to pay for intruding 
into dreamland when we are not asleep. But this is not what 
I began to say. Edward Percy met me to-day, and this is 
what he told me : He said he was going away, upon some 
geological expedition, and would most likely be gone a year. 
He wanted me to promise to hold myself free until he could re- 
turn and claim me. He would exact no other promise now, 
only pledging himself. At the end of a year, all obstacles to 
our open engagement would be removed. I, of course, supposed, 
then, that the ‘ obstacles’ referred to, were business and financial 
ones. Don’t think, Madeline, that we have been in, the habit 
of meeting clandestinely. He visited me openly in Baltimore, 
but not often enough to excite remark ; and we frequently met 
at other places, as he went in the best society there.” 

Claire paused, but Madeline went on with her toilet in grave 
silence. 

“ Madeline, darling, I can’t thank you enough for opening 
my eyes before it was too late, while it was no worse — and I can’t 
explain my feelings. I despise him, and 1 despise myself for 
being thus duped. It is my pride that is suffering now but, of 
course, I know that, despise the man as I may, my heart will be 
heavier and my life darker, because of what I believed him to 
be. Now let us go to Olive.” 

Madeline Payne threw her arms impulsively about her friend 
and mummed, brokenly “ Claire, Claire! you are braver than 
I, and far, far more worthy. You have a right to be happy, 
and you shall be.” 


206 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


And in that moment the girl renounced a resolve she had 
taken, and a hope she had cherished. 

As they descended the stairs together Claire fancied that she 
looked paler, and a thought sadder than before. 

They found Olive and dinner waiting. As they took their 
places about the luxury-laden board, three lovelier women or 
three sadder hearts could not have been found in a duty’s journey. 

Of the three, Claire Keith was the calmest, the most self-pos- 
sessed. All that was to be related by Madeline, all that Olive 
was waiting in anxious expectation to hear, she knew already. 
The best and the worst had been revealed to her; her own course 
was clear before her. So she ate her dinner with composure, 
and bore a large share in the table talk that, but for her, would 
have been rather vague and spasmodic. 

Dinner was an ordeal for Olive, at least, on that day, for her 
mind was filled with thoughts of Philip, and wonderment as to 
how the picture of the man who had been his ruin came into the 
possession of Madeline, who was making herself more and more 
of a mystery. 

Madeline, too, was restless. She wished the revelation were 
made and done with. She wondered if she could control the 
future so far as Olive was concerned, for she had made her plans, 
and did not propose to let the work be taken out of her hands. 

When Madeline had related to Olive the events that had been 
transpiring at Oakley, she had narrated faithfully the scenes be- 
tween Cora and Percy, but she had withheld the name of the 
latter, a fact which was not even noticed by Olive, who had not 
been especially interested in this last actor upon the scene. 

Now, when dinner was over, and they had grouped themselves 
about the grate, its ruddy glow illuminating the twilight that 
was fast giving place to evening shadows, Madeline retold the 


A DUAL RENUNCIATION. 


207 


story of Percy’s first interview with Cora on his arrival, and 
his second, in the summer-house, the overhearing of which had 
caused that long absence from Miss Arthur’s dressing-room, 
which necessitated her ingenious and highly improbable explana- 
tion to the aggrieved spinster, with which the reader is already 
acquainted. 

During this recital the face of Olive Girard was a study. It 
changed from curiosity to wonder; from wonder to a dawning 
hopefulness of finding in all this a possible clue, that might 
help her husband to his freedom. Then despair took the place 
of hope, as the clue seemed to elude her grasp. At the end, 
astonishment and incredulity fairly took away her breath. She 
sank back in her chair without uttering a word. 

Madeline waited for comments, but Claire was the first to 
speak. During the recital she had been able to think, and to 
some purpose. As the disjointed fragments were joined together 
by Madeline, Claire was drawing shrewd and close inferences. 
Now she lifted her head and asked : 

"Madeline, have you formed any sort of a theory, as to how 
all this might affect Olive and Philip?” 

Madeline looked up in surprise at the question, and answered 
it by asking another : " Have you?” 

"Yes, but I think Olive would rather hear yours; and mine 
is, as yet, but half formed.” 

Olive had regained a measure of her composure, and now she 
sat erect, and said, eagerly : 

"Madeline, I have been too much surprised and shocked to 
think clearly. Think for me, child, and for mercy’s sake, tell me 
at once all that you suspect.” 

"I suspect much,” replied the girl, gravely ; "but what we 
want is proof. First we want to find out who is the party who 


208 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


accompanied Madame Cora, or Alice, as Percy called her, to 
Europe, for to Europe she went. Did she know Lucian Davlin 
ten years ago? Did they go together to Europe?” 

“You want to know, first of all,” said Claire, interrupting 
her, “when the intimacy of those two did begin. The woman 
may not have known him ten years ago. It would be easier to 
find out if they have been allies during the past five years.” 

Madeline turned a look of surprised admiration upon the 
speaker as she replied: 

“You are right, Claire, and keener than I. Yet, my theory 
is, that they were friends before the woman fled from her cottage 
in the suburbs. I think the stealing of the marriage certificate 
has a strong savor of a man’s thoughtful cunning. The woman 
could not have been so deep a schemer in those days. Now, 
Olive, let us suppose that these two were plotting in unison. 
Edward Percy’s first wife dies, and no one the wiser about the 
marriage. Then he inherits his uncle’s wealth. If Edward 
Percy were to die then, the woman, Cora, could come forward 
as his widow, display the proofs of their marriage, and inherit 
his fortune. He seems to have no living relatives, but, even 
should other heirs appear, she would claim her widow’s portion.” 

“Good heavens!” gasped Olive. 

“Wait,” pursued Madeline; “ now, don’t you see, supposing 
all the rest true, that if Lucian Davlin attempted the life of 
this man, with the view of getting his money, and if he failed 
in some manner unknown, — don’t you see that, holding over 
Percy’s head the fear of the law, and the proofs of his having 
committed bigamy, he might thus silence him? Then, that the 
two disliking Philip Girard, and finding the opportunity to 
throw suspicion upon him by circumstantial evidence, would 
naturally do so.” 


A DUAL RENUNCIATION. 


209 


Olive Girard was fearfully agitated, but, after a few moments, 
had in a measure recovered her self-possession. Then the three 
seemed seized with a desire to talk all at once. And talk they 
did, — fast, earnestly, excitedly at times. 

At last, out of many words, they evolved a plan of action, 
and having arrived at a definite conclusion, they settled down 
into partial calm once more; a calm that was broken by a most 
agreeable ripple. 

Doctor Clarence Vaughan was announced, and ushered into 
their presence, all in the same moment. 

Doctor Vaughan was glad tose.e Madeline; that was evident. 
But while he expressed his pleasure in frank, brotherly fashion, 
his eyes wandered from her face to that of Claire Keith. 

It was only a look, but Madeline Payne would have ex- 
changed all the smiles, hand clasps, and brotherly words she 
could ever hope to receive from him, for one such glance from 
his eyes. But the tender wistfulness was all for Claire — blind 
Claire, who saw nothing of it. 

Madeline withdrew her hand from his clasp, uttering, as she 
did so, a flippant commonplace in response to his hearty greet- 
ing, but Claire had caught the look in his eyes, and the false 
gayety in Madeline’s voice, and it caused her to wonder. 

Heretofore she had lived in a dream of her own, and had 
been careless of the varying expressions of those about her. 
Her dream had been dispelled, and she seemed now to have a 
keener eye for the emotion of others. Troubles of our own, 
sometimes, open our eyes to the fact that our friends are not all 
supremely happy. Then we naturally fall to speculating as to 
the cause. This was the case with Claire. She speculated a 
little as to why the eyes of Dr. Vaughan rested upon her, with 
that half-sad expression in them. Then she wondered why the 

14 


210 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


spirit of perversity had possessed Madeline* and induced her to 
extend to Doctor Vaughan so shabby a welcome. Then, with- 
out realizing it, she fell to observing the manner of these two 
more closely. 

“Well, Miss Payne, what report do you bring from the 
enemy’s country?” he asked, after a few commonplaces between 
himself and the mistress of the house. 

“I have not been in the enemy’s country, Doctor Vaughan; 
the enemies are infesting mine.” 

“As you please, little warrior,” smiled he. “Then may I 
ask, how goes the battle ?” 

“Oh, yes! you may ask,” crossing over and seating herself 
beside Olive, “but your curiosity must wait. It’s a ridiculous, 
tiresome story, and wouldn’t amuse you much, or interest you, 
either. I am going to let Mrs. Girard inflict it upon you, when 
she thinks you need a penance.” 

“ I think you need a penance now, Miss Payne, for accusing 
me of too much curiosity, and too little interest.” 

“Oh, I didn’t mean that, exactly,” shrugging her shoulders 
carelessly. “ I suppose, of course, a physician is interested to a 
certain extent in all his subjects, living or dead; but I can’t let 
you dissect my mind to-night. Besides,” laughing maliciously, 
“ I know you would recommend leeches and blisters, and maybe 
a straight jacket, and I can’t be stopped in my charming career 
just yet.” 

Clarence Vaughan seemed not in the least offended by the 
girl’s cool insolence. He smiled indulgently, and when Olive 
ventured a gentle remonstrance, he murmured to Claire, with a 
half laugh : “ Miss Madeline is incomprehensible to me; do you 
understand her, Miss Keith?” 

And Claire, looking across at her friend, replied, oddly; “I 



212 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


love her, Doctor Vaughan, and I begin to understand her, I 
think.” 

“ Do you ?” smiling down upon her. “ Then some day will 
you not interpret her to me?” 

Claire’s answer was again given oddly, as, lifting her eyes to 
his face, she said, quite gravely : “ If it is necessary to do so, 

perhaps I will.” 

Then conversation became general; rather Dr. Vaughan 
talked, and they all listened. 

Claire found herself thinking that Doctor Vaughan was a 
noble-looking man ; not alluringly handsome, as was Edward 
Percy ; not possessing the magnetic fascination that Madeline 
had described as belonging to Lucian Davlin. But he had a 
fine face, nay, a grand face, full of strength and sweetness; not 
devoid of beauty, but having in it something infinitely better, 
truer, and more godlike than mere physical beauty can impart 
to any face. 

Then she thought of Madeline, of her loneliness, her sorrow, 
and her need of just such a strong, gentle nature to lean upon, 
to look up to, and to obey. “She would obey him,” quoth 
Claire to herself. 

Next she fell to watching Madeline, through luflf-closed eye- 
lashes. She saw how the girl listened to his every word; how, 
when his eyes were not upon her, she seemed to devour him 
with a hungry, longing, sorrowful gaze. 

“As if she were taking leave of him forever,” thought 
Claire. 

And that is what Madeline was doing. When she came to 
the city, it was with the determination to win the love of this 
man, if it could be won; to let nothing stand between herself and 
the fulfillment of that purpose. But all this had been changed, 


A DUAL RENUNCIATION. 


213 


and seeing how bravely Claire bore the shock of her lover’s 
baseness, how proudly, how nobly, she commanded herself, 
Madeline had abandoned her purpose. 

“I am not worthy of him, and she is,” she told herself. 

When she declared that Claire should be happy, she bade 
farewell to her own hope of future happiness. She would help 
him to win the girl he loved, and then she would be content to 
die ; aye, more than content. 

To-night, therefore, she was saying in her heart a farewell to 
this man, who was so dear to her. She had almost hoped that 
she should not meet him again for the present, and yet she was 
so glad to have seen him once more. She was glad of his 
presence, yet fearful lest her good resolution might be shaken. 
She would not let him be too kind to her, rather let him think 
her ungrateful, anything — what could it matter now? 

“ Shall you not come back to the city soon, Miss Payne? 
Surely your old home can not be the most charming place, in 
your eyes,” questioned Clarence, after a time. 

“ I don’t intend returning to the city — at least, not for some 
time, Doctor Vaughan.” 

Clarence looked perplexed. 

To break the silence that ensued, Claire crossed to the piano 
and began playing soft, dreamy fragments of melody. 

Presently Olive took up the conversation, and when Madeline 
again turned her face toward him, he was listening to Olive 
and looking at Claire. It was the same look, yearning, tender. 

Claire, all unconscious of his gaze, was looking at Madeline, 
as she played softly on. 

As Olive and Clarence talked, Claire saw the face of the girl 
grow dark ; she saw her eyes full of a hungry, despairing light, 
and gradually there crept upon her the remembrance that she 


214 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


had seen that same look, only not so vvoful, in the eye of 
Clarence Vaughan; that same look fixed upon herself. In- 
voluntarily her fingers slipped from the keys, and she turned 
from the instrument to encounter the same gaze fastened upon 
her now; ardent, tender, longing eyes they were, and her own 
fell before them. 

Claire Keith was troubled. She wanted to be alone, to 
think. She murmured an excuse; her head ached; she would 
retire. 

Clarence had noted an unusual brightness in her eye, and a 
feverish flush upon her cheek. Now, however, she was quite 
pale, and as she extended her hand to him with a strange, new 
sensation of diffidence and consciousness, he clasped it for a 
moment in his own, and said, earnestly: “ You do not look at 
all well, Miss Keith; you are sure it is only a headache ?” 

“ Quite sure,” smiling faintly. 

“Then good-night. I shall enquire after your head to- 
morrow.” 

“Thank you,” she murmured. 

Then nodding to her sister and Madeline, she glided from the 
room. 

It had all come upon her at once. Edward Percy was an 
impostor; Edward Percy, as she had believed in him, had 
never existed. The love that she had believed hers was hers no 
longer, or, if it were, she no longer desired it. Almost simul- 
taneously with this knowledge, came the unapokfcrc assurance 
that she was the possessor of a worthier love, a manlier heart. 

She could not feel glad to know this, yet she was not sorry. 
Somehow it soothed her to know that she was not a forsaken, 
loveless maiden. It was something to possess the love of so 
good a man, even if she could make it no return. 


STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 


215 


But Madeline. Poor Madeline; she loved this man; she 
needed his love, she must have it. 

Claire pulled back the curtains from her window, and gazed 
out into the starlit night. “She needs this love,” the girl mur- 
mured. “ Clarence Vaughan shall learn to love her, if I can 
bring it about. Yes, even if I loved him , I would give him up 
to her.” 


CHAPTER XX. 

STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 

When Claire left the drawing-room, Madeline had started up 
as if about to follow her. Recalling herself, she sat down again, 
keeping, as before, near to Olive, and taking as little share in 
the conversation as was possible. She dared not trust herself 
too much ; her good resolves were strong, but not stronger than 
was the charm of his voice and presence. 

“Let them think me uncivil,” she murmured to herself; 
“what does it matter now?” 

But her trial was not over. Olive and Clarence had held 
frequent council together concerning the wayward girl, and how 
they could best influence her aright without breaking the letter 
or spirit of their promise to her. And the absence of Claire 
added to their freedom of speech. 

Olive had intimated to Doctor Vaughan that Madeline had 
taken some, perhaps unsafe, steps in the pursuit of her enemies. 
He, understanding the impetuosity of the girl, as well as her 
reckless fearlessness, could not conceal the anxiety he felt. 

Acting under an impulse of disinterested kindness, Clarence 


216 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Vaughan crossed the room and sat down by Madeline’s side. 

"Miss Madeline/’ he said, as respectfully as if to an empress, 
"we, Mrs. Girard and myself, cannot get rid of the idea that 
somehow you partly belong to us; that we ought to be given a 
little, just a very little, authority over you.” 

There was a shade of bitterness in the girl’s answer. "You 
have the right to exercise authority over me, if you choose to do 
so. You are my benefactors.” 

They felt the reproof of her words. This keen-witted, uncon- 
trollable girl, was putting up barrier upon barrier between her- 
self and their desire to serve her. Very quietly he answered 
her: 

"You do us an injustice, when you suggest that we claim your 
confidence on the score of any indebtedness on your part. It 
has been our happiness to serve you. If we have not your 
esteem, if we may not stand toward you in the light of a brother 
and sister, anxious only for your welfare and happiness, then we 
have no claim upon you.” 

"My happiness!” 

The face was averted, but the lips were pale and drawn, and 
the words came through them like a moan. 

Olive stirred uneasily. She could see that the girl was suf- 
fering, although she did not guess at the cause. 

" Yes,” continued Clarence, laying his hand gently upon hers; 
"Madeline, — will you let me call you Madeline? — will you let 
me be your brother? I have no sister, almost no kin ; I wpn’t 
be an exacting brother,” smilingly. " I won’t overstep thelimits 
you set me, but we must have done with this nonsense about 
benefactors, and gratitude, and all that.” 

No answer, eyes down dropped, face still half-averted, and 
looking as if hardening into marble. 


STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 


217 


“What is my fate?” still holding her hand. “Can you ac- 
cept so unworthy a brother?” 

“ Yes,” in such a cold, far-away tone. 

He lifted the hand to his lips. “Thank you, Madeline,” he 
said, as if she had done him high honor. 

Madeline felt her courage failing her. How could she listen 
to him, talk to him, with anything like sisterly freedom, and not 
prove false to her resolve to further his cause with Claire? And 
yet how could she refuse him the trust he asked of her? 

It was very pleasant to know that he was thus interested 
in her; she felt lierself slipping quickly into a day-dream in 
which nothing was distinct save that there existed a bond be- 
tween them, that he had claimed the right to exercise authority 
over her, and that she was very, very glad even to be his slave. 
Listening to his voice, a smile crept to her lips, and — 

“The eyes smiled too, 

But *twas as if remembering they had wept. 

And knowing they would some day weep again.” 

“l don’t intend to give up my claims upon Madeline; I 
elected her my sister, when I brought her home with me. And 
I had been flattering myself that I was to have a companion, 
but I am afraid she will run away from me. She ought to take 
Cl? ire’s place in my home, ought she not? Claire is with me 
so little,” said Olive. 

Madeline smiled sadly. “I could never do that,” she said; 
“I could no more fill Claire’s place than I could substitute my- 
self for the l /s of the sun.” 

“Claire would laugh at you for that speech,” said Olive. 

“But it is true; is it not?” appealing to Doctor Vaughan. 

He colored slightly under her gaze, “ We don’t want two 


218 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Claires,” he said; “but you can be yourself, and that will make 
us happy.” 

The girl let her eyes fall, and rest upon her clasped hands. 

“I would like to make you happy,” she said, softly. 

“Really?” 

“Really,” lifting her eyes to his face. 

“Then, promise us that you will let us help to right your 
wrongs, and that you will come back, like a good sister, and stay 
with Mrs. Girard.” 

Her face hardened. “I can not,” she said, briefly. 

“You will not,” seriously. 

No answer. 

“Madeline, what is it you wish to do?” 

“What I wish to do, I can not. I can tell you what I intend 
to do,” sitting very erect. 

“Then what do you intend?” 

“ I intend,” turning her eyes away from them both, and fixing 
them moodily upon the fire, “to follow up the path in which I 
have set my feet. I intend to oust a base adventuress from the 
home that was my mother’s; to wrest the fortune that is mine 
from the grasp of a bad old man, and make him suffer for the 
wrong he did my mother. I intend to laugh at Lucian Davlin, 
when he is safe behind prison bars; to hunt down and frustrate 
an impostor, and by so doing, clear the name of Philip Girard 
before all the world.” Her voice was low, but very firm, dogged 
almost, in its tone. 

He turned a perplexed face toward Olive. 

“What does it all mean?” he asked. 

“What she says,” replied Mrs. Girard, flushing with sup^ 
pressed excitement. “She has found a clue that may lead to 
Philip’s release.” 


STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 


219 


He moved nearer to the girl, and taking her hand, drew her 
toward him, until she faced him. “ Madeline, is this true?” 

“Yes.” 

“And you will hold me to a promise not to lift a hand to 
help clear the name of my friend?” reproachfully. 

“Yes,” unflinchingly. 

“Are you doing right, my sister?” 

She attempted to draw away her hand. 

“Child, what can you do?” 

She turned her eyes toward Olive. “She will tell you what 
I have done. I can do much more.” 

Olive came suddenly to her side. “Oh, Madeline!” she 
said, “let him take all this into his hands. It is not fit work 
for you. It will harden you, make you bitter, and — >” 

Madeline wrested her hand away and sprang up, standing 
before them flushed and goaded into bitterness. 

“Yes,” she cried, wildly, “I know; yo, need not say it. 
It will harden me; it has already. It will make me bitter and 
bad, unfit for your society, unworthy of your friendship. I 
shall be a liar, a spy, a hypocrite — but I shall succeed. You 
see, you were wrong in offering me your friendship, Doctor 
Vaughan. I shall not be worthy to be called your sister, but,” 
brokenly, “you need not have feared. I never intended to 
presume upon your friendship ; I never intended to trouble you 
after — after my work is done. Ah ! how dared I think to be- 
come one of you — I, whom you rescued from a gambler’s den ; 
I who go about disguised, and play the servant to people whom 
you would not touch. You are right; after this I will go my 
way alone.” 

Her voice became inarticulate, the last word was a sob, and 
she turned swiftly to leave the room. 


220 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Olive sprang forward with a remorseful cry, but Clarence 
Vaughan motioned her back, and with a quick stride was at the 
door, one hand upon it, the other firmly clasping the wrist of 
the now sobbing girl. Closing the door, which she had par- 
tially opened, he led her back, very gently, but firmly, and 
placing her in a chair, stood beside her until the sobs ceased. 
Then he drew a chair close to her own, and said, softly: 

" My little sister, we never meant this. These are your own 
morbid fancies. Because you are playing the part of amateur 
detective, you are not necessarily cut off from all your friends. 
We would not give you up so easily, and there is too much that 
is good and noble in you to render your position so very dan- 
gerous to your womanhood. You have grieved Mrs. Girard 
deeply by imputing any such meaning to her words. Can’t you 
understand, child, that it is because we care for you, because we 
want to shield you from the hardships you must of necessity 
undergo, that we wish you to let us work with and for you ?” 

Madeline shivered and gave a long, sobbing sigh. He took 
both listless hands in iiis own. 

"Now, sister mine, won’t you make me a promise, just one?” 

Her hands trembled under his. How could she resist him 
when his strong, firm clasp was upon her; when he was looking 
into her eyes pleadingly, even tenderly ; when his breath was on 
her cheek, and his voice murmured in her ear ? She sat before 
bin contrite, conquered, strangely happy; conscious of nothing 
save a wish that she might die then and there, with her hands in 
his. She was afraid to speak and break the spell. He had 
said that he cared for her, was not that enough ? 

"Tell me, Madeline.” 

"Yes,” 6he breathed, rather than uttered. 

"Thank you. Now, sister, we are going to trust to your 



“ Yes,” she cried, wildly, “ I know; you need not say it ” — page 219. 

221 








222 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


sagacity in this matter. But you must promise me, as your 
brother, who is bound to look after your welfare, that you will 
take no decisive steps without first informing us, and that as 
soon as the work becomes too heavy for your hands, you will 
call upon me to help you. My sister will surely do nothing 
that her brother cannot sanction?” 

She dropped her eyes and said, simply: “I will do what you 
wish me to.” 

“ You will give me your confidence, then?” 

“Yes.” 

“Am I to hear a complete history of all that has happened 
thus far from Mrs. Girard?” 

“Yes.” 

“And, after hearing it, may I communicate with you?” 

She glanced up in surprise. 

“Or,” continued he; “better still, may I come down to Bel- 
lair and talk things over with you, should I deem it advisable?” 

“If you wish;” looking glad. 

“Mind, I don’t want to intrude; I will not come if you don’t 
desire it ; but I shall wish to come. And you may manage our 
interviews as you see fit. I will do nothing to compromise you 
in the eyes of the people you are among. May I come?” 

“Yes;” very softly, and trembling under his hand. 

“ Then we will say no more about all this to-night. You have 
already abused your strength, and if you don’t get rest and sleep 
we shall have you ill again, and then what would become of our 
little detective?” 

Olive came forward with outstretched hands and pleading 
eyes. “I can’t wait any longer to be forgiven for my thought- 
less words,” she said. “Madeline, you will forgive me?” 

“Of course Madeline will,” replied Clarence, “Now you 


STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 


223 


had better forgive Madeline for putting such a perverse construc- 
tion upon your words, and then we will send her away to get 
the rest she must have.” 

"I was abominable, Olive,” said the girl, so ruefully that 
Clarence laughed outright. “Of course, I know you are too 
kind to say a cruel thing. I — I believe I was trying to quarrel 
with you all ; do forgive me.” 

“Of course you were trying to quarrel with us; and I haven’t 
a bit of faith in your penitence now, young lady,” said Clarence, 
rising and smiling. “I can’t believe in you until I am assured 
that you will go to bed straightway, and swallow every bit of 
the wine I shall send up to you.” 

“With something nice in it,” suggested Olive. 

“With something very nice in it, of course. Now, will you 
obey so tyrannical a brother, and swallow his first brotherly pre- 
scription without making a face?” 

All his kindness and care for her comfort brought a thrill of 
gladness to the girl’s heart, and some of the old debonnaire, 
half-defiant light back to her eyes, as she replied, while rising 
from her chair, in obedience to a gesture of playful authority 
from Clarence, “Will I accept a scolding and go to bed, that 
means.” 

Then making a wry face and evidently referring to the wine: 
“Is it very bitter?” 

“Not very; but you must swallow every drop.” 

“And I will order the wine,” said Olive, touching the bell. 
“You know, Dr. Vaughan, that Madeline leaves us in the 
morning?” 

“No?” in surprise. “Must you go so soon?” 

“Yes,” demurely, “unless I am forbidden.” 

“We are too wise to forbid you to do anything you have set 


224 


M A DELIN E PA YNE. 


your heart on. Then I must tell you good-by here and now, 
for a little time.” 

“ Or a long one,” gravely. 

“Not for a long one. ‘ If the mountain won’t come/ you 
know; — well, if I don’t get very satisfactory reports from you, 
look out for me.” 

“ You can’t get at me,” wickedly. 

“ Can’t I? Wait and see. I’ll come as your grandfather, or 
your maiden aunt. ” 

“ Please don’t,” laughing, “one spinster is enough.” 

“Well, I won’t, then; I think I’ll come as your father con- 
fessor.” 

At this Olive joined in the laugh. 

“Good-night, Dr. Vaughan.” 

“Good-night, Miss Payne,” with exaggerated emphasis and 
dignity, but holding fast to her hand. 

She looked at the hand doubtfully, then up into his face. 
“ Good-night — brother,” with pretty shyness. 

“That is better,” releasing the little hand. “ Good-night, 
sister mine. Mind you drink every drop of the wine.” 

“ I will !” quite seriously. “ Good-night, Olive.” 

Olive stooped and kissed her cheek. “Good-night, dear,” 
she said, “ and happy dreams.” 

Dr. Vaughan opened the door for her, and smiled after her as 
she looked back from the foot of the stairs. Then closing the 
door he came back, and stood on the hearth-rug, looking thought- 
ful. 

“It is a difficult nature to deal with, and in her present mood, 
a dangerous ope. She is painfully sensitive, and possesses an 
exceedingly nervous temperament. Then, that episode with 
Davlin was very humiliating to her, and it is constantly in her 


STRUGGLING* AGAINST FATE. 


225 


mind. Evidently she has lately been under much excitement, 
and she is hardly herself to-night. I think, however, if I were 
you, I would make no further effort to dissuade her from her 
purpose. It will do no good, and harm might come of it.” 

“ Indeed, I will not,” said Olive. “ How thankful I am that 
you were here ; your calmness and tact has saved us something 
not pleasant. I don’t think I could have managed her myself.” 

“ Probably not; and now I will prepare a soothing and sleep- 
ing draught, and then, as it is late, will detain you no longer. 
Perhaps you had better see that the draught is administered.” 

Olive gladly accepted the charge, and shortly after Doctor 
Vaughan took his departure, wise and yet blind; blind as to 
the true cause of Madeline’s outbreak and subsequent submissive- 
ness. 

Madeline obeyed to the letter the instructions of Doctor 
Vaughan. As a result, she fell asleep almost immediately, be- 
fore calm thought had come to dispel her mood of dreamy hap- 
piness. 

In the morning she awoke quieted, refreshed, and quite mis- 
tress of herself. She did not once refer to the events of the 
previous evening. Only, before taking leave of Claire, she 
whispered in her ear: 

“ Dear Claire, you can make a noble man happy. Let his 
love atone to you for this present bitterness. God bless you 
both.” 

It was an odd speech, truly. But as Madeline turned her 
back upon the pretty villa, and was driven swiftly to the rail- 
road depot, she wondered why Claire had responded to it only 
with a passionate kiss and with tears in her beautiful eyes. 

A nd Claire, having seen her driven from the door, lied pre- 
cipitately to her room. Locking herself in, she fell upon her 

15 


226 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


knees beside a low chair. Burying her face in her hands she 
wept bitterly, — not for herself, but for the girl who was so 
heroically resigning to another the man she loved; who was go- 
ing forth, alone, to encounter hardship, perhaps danger, to fight 
single-handed, not only her own battles, but those of her friends 
as well. 

“And I dared to judge her,” said the girl, indignantly. “I 
presumed to criticise the delicacy of this grand, brave nature! 
Why, I ought to be proud to claim her friendship, and I am !” 

From that hour, let Madeline’s course seem ever so doubtful, 
let Olive fear and doubt as she would, Claire Keith stoutly de- 
fended every act, and averred that Madeline could do nothing 
wrong. And from that hour, Claire began to plot upon her 
own responsibility. 

In due course Doctor Vaughan called, and was closeted with 
Olive a very long time — rather, with Olive and Claire, for this 
young lady had surprised her sister, by expressing a desire to 
hear what Doctor Vaughan would say of Madeline’s adven- 
tures. To tell the truth, Claire had fancied that Clarence 
would criticise more or less, and it was in the capacity 
of champion for the absent that she appeared at the. inter- 
view. 

After the matter had been fully discussed, Doctor Vaughan 
addressed himself to Claire: “Miss Keith, you have been a 
good listener. Won’t you give us your opinion as to the 
achievements of our little friend?” 

Claire came forward, with a charming mixture of frankness 
and embarrassment: “First, let me make the amende honorable , 
Doctor Vaughan. I presented myself at this interview with 
the full intention, and for the express purpose, of waging war 


STRUGGLING AGAINST FATE. 


227 


upon you both, if necessary, and I had no doubt that it would 
be.” 

Doctor Vaughan looked much astonished. 

“But,” pursued Claire, “I have misjudged you. I did not 
think you would so heartily approve of Madeline’s course, and 
I was bristling with bayonets to defend her.” 

“ I must own to being of Claire’s opinion,” interposed Olive, 
looking somewhat amused. 

Clarence smiled and then looked thoughtful. 

“I can easily understand,” he said, seriously, “how you 
ladies might have looked upon the course Miss Payne has 
taken, as an objectionable, even an improper, one. The posi- 
tion in which she has placed herself is, certainly, an unusual, a 
startling one for a woman of refinement and delicacy. But we 
must consider that the occasion is also an unusual one, and ordi- 
nary measures will not apply successfully to extraordinary cases. 
As to the impropriety, no one need fear to trust his or her 
honor in the keeping of a woman as brave and noble as 
Madeline Payne is proving herself.” 

“Then you do not censure Madeline for refusing to trust the 
matter in the hands of a detective?” questioned Olive. 

“The matter is in the hands of a detective, Mrs. Girard; in 
the hands of the shrewdest and ablest little detective that could, 
by any possibility, have been found. Why, Madeline has ac- 
complished, in a short time, what the best detectives on our 
regular force might have labored at for a year, and then failed 
of achieving!” 

Claire threw a look of triumph at her sister. “ Oh, how glad 
I am to hear you say all this, and how glad Madeline would be.” 
Then she checked herself suddenly. 

“ I can suggest but one improvement upon the present state of 


228 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


things,” said Clarence, after a moment’s reflection. “That is, if 
we can persuade Madeline to permit it, and I think we can, we 
should set two men at work, neither one to be aware of the em- 
ployment of the other. One to trace out as much of the past of 
this man Percy, as may be. The other to perform the same 
office for Davlin. Of course, they would not be advised of the 
actual reason for these researches, and so their investigations 
would in no way interfere with Madeline’s pursuit of the game 
at Oakley. I don’t think we could improve upon the present 
arrangement there.” 

“And how do you propose to bring this about?” questioned 
Olive. 

“By going down to Bellair, as soon as I can get the necessary 
permission from our little generalissimo , and talking the matter 
over with her. I think she will see the propriety of the move, 
don’t you?” appealing to Claire. 

• “I think she will follow your advice,” gravely. 

“I hope she will,” said Olive. 

“I know she will do exactly right,” asserted Claire, so posi- 
tively that they both smiled. 

“I think I may venture to agree with you, Miss Keith.” said 
Dr. Vaughan. 

“You had better, both of you, where Madeline is concerned,” 
looking ferocious. 

“I begin to think that valor is infectious,” laughed Olive, and 
Clarence joined in the laugh. 

Altogether the result of their council was pleasing to each of 
the three. Olive was hopeful ; Clarence was full of enthusiasm, 
and more deeply in love than ever with generous Claire; and 
she was pleased with his frank admiration of Madeline’s 
courage, and full of hope for Madeline’s future. 


HAGAR AND CORA. 


229 


“He admires her now. He will love her by and by,” she as- 
sured herself. 


i 

CHAPTER XXI. 

HAGAR AND CORA. 

Meanwhile, Lucian Davlin had hastened to Bellair in re- 
sponse to Cora’s summons, full of conjectures as to what had 
“ turned up.” 

When the noon train from the city puffed up to the little plat- 
form, Lucian Davlin was among the arrivals, and at the end of 
the depot platform stood the dainty phaeton of Mrs. John Arthur. 
That lady herself reined in her prancing ponies, and the whole 
formed an object of admiration for the few depot loungers. 

As Lucian Davlin crossed the platform and took his seat be- 
side the lady, an old woman hobbled across the track. Casting 
a furtive glance in the direction the ponies were taking, she 
hobbled away toward the wood. 

Miss Arthur’s maid had surmised aright. It was no part of 
Cora’s plan to permit the inmates of Oak ley a view of Mr. Davlin 
on this occasion. So the ponies were driven briskly away from 
the town, and when that was left behind, permitted to walk 
through the almost leafless woods, while Cora revealed to Lucian 
the extent of the fresh calamity that had befallen them in the ad- 
vent of Mr. Percy. 

“Well, what have you to say to all this?” demanded the 
lady, pettishly, after she had disburdened herself of the story, 
with its most minute particulars. “This is a pretty state of 


230 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


affairs, is it not? I am worn out. I wish Oakley and the whole 
tribe were at the bottom of the sea!” 

“ Stuff!” with much cooln :s : then taking a flask containing 
some amber liquid from a breast pocket he held it between his 
eyes and the light for critical examination. 

“ Stuff? where? In that flask ?” 

“No, in your words. This,” shaking the amber liquid, “is 
simon pure; best French. Have some? 1 felt as if I needed a 
‘ bracer’ this morning.” 

“Up all night, I presume,” eyeing him askant. 

“Pretty much;” indifferently. “Won’t take any? Then, 
here’s confusion to Percy,” and he took a long draught. “Now, 
then,” pocketing the brandy and turning tow T ard her, briskly, 
“I’m ready for business. How the deuce did we let this fellow 
pounce down upon us like this? I thought he was safe in 
Cuba?” 

“He will never be safe anywhere, until he gets to — ” 

“Heaven,” suggested he. 

“ I suppose it was stupid,” she went on, gloomily. “ But when 
Ellen Arthur raved of her dear friend Mr. Percy, how was I to 
imagine that among all the Percys on earth, this especial and 
particular one should be the Percy. I wrote you that she had a 
lover of that name ; did it occur to you that it might be he ?” 
maliciously. 

“Well, candidly, it did not.” 

“ We were a pair of stupid fools, and we are finely caught for 
our pains.” 

“ First statement correct,” composedly ; “ don’t agree with the 
last, however.” 

“Why not?” 

“ Does he know I am on deck ?” 


“No.” 


HAG AH AND CORA. 


231 


“ Didn’t inquire after me, or say anything about the docu- 
ments?” 

“No special inquiries.” 

“Well, then, where is the great danger?” 

“Where?” much astonished. 

“Yes, where? If you told me all the truth concerning your- 
self ten years ago, we can make him play into our hands.” 

“How?” 

“Don’t go too fast. Wien you told me that he believed you 
to have left home because of an unkind step-mother, was that 
true?” 

“It was true. I did leave home and come to the city when I 
was but sixteen, because my father was a drunkard, and my 
6tep-mother abusive, and we were poor and I was proud.” 

“Don’t doubt that fact;” with an outward gesture of the sup- 
ple hand. “But you told him that you had two big step- 
brothers I” 

Cora laughed. “A big brother is an excellent weapon to hold 
over the heads of some men,” she suggested. 

“True,” with an amused look. “Why didn’t you brandish 
one over me?” 

“Over you?” laughing again. “You and Percy were two 
different men.” 

“Mud obliged,” lifting his hat with mock gravity. “Well, 
we are r twc different men,’ still; just let your pretty little head 
rest, and ^eave Percy to me.” 

“ I wish to Heaven you had made an end — ” 

“‘Ah-h-h. I have sighed to rest me,’” warbled Davlin. 
“ Cora, my love, never put your foot on too dangerous ground.” 

“ Well, I do wish so, all the same,” said she, with feminine 
pertinacity. 


232 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Now, tell me what your plan is. We want to understand 
each other, and have no more bungling.” 

“All you will have to do will be to keep quiet and follow 
my cue. When I come down, we must manage it that I meet 
Percy in Miss Arthur’s absence. The rest is easy; this Mr. 
Percy will not find his path free from obstacles, I think.” 

“What game will you play?” 

“Precisely what I am playing now. 'I am your brother. 
That will explain some things that puzzled him some time ago,” 
dryly. “Iam your sole protector^saving the old chap, don’t 
you see.” 

The woman pondered a moment. “I think it will answer,” 
she said, at last. “At any rate, it is the best we can do now.” 

A little more conversation, and Cora was quite satisfied with 
that and other arrangements. Then the ponies were headed to- 
ward the village, and driven at a brisk pgce, thus enabling Mr. 
Davlin to catch the afternoon train back to the city. No one 
at Oakley w r as any the wiser for his visit. It was no uncommon 
thing for Cora to drive out unattended, and she returned to the 
manor in a very good humor, considering the situation. 

Cora’s drive had given her an appetite, and she had partaken 
of no luncheon. She therefore ordered a very bounteous one 
to be served in the red parlor. Mr. Arthur was enjoying his 
usual afternoon siesta; Miss Arthur was invisible, for which 
Cora felt duly thankful; and so she settled herself down 
to solitude, cold chicken and other edibles, and her own 
thoughts. 

Ever and anon she gazed listlessly from the window, letting 
her eyes rove from the terrace to the hedgerow walk, the woods 
beyond, and back again to the terrace. Suddenly she bent 
forward, and looked earnestly at some object, moving toward 


HAGAR AND CORA. 


233 


the stile from the grove beyond. A moment later, it appeared 
in the gap of the hedge. 

Cora leaned back in her chair, still observant, muttering: 

“I thought so! It is that ugly old woman. Now, what in 
the world does she want here, for — yes, she is entering the 
grounds, comingmp the terrace.” 

True enough, old Hagar was coming slowly along the terrace, 
taking a leisurely survey of the window facing that walk, as 
she did so. Casting her eyes upward, they met the gaze of 
Mrs. Arthur. Then, much to the surprise of that lady, she 
paused and executed a brief pantomime, as grotesque as it was 
mysterious. 

Cora drew back in some astonishment, pondering as to whether 
or no the old woman might not be partially insane, when Susan, 
the maid of the romantic mind, appeared before her, and an- 
nounced that the object of her thoughts was in the kitchen, and 
begged that Mrs. Arthur would permit her an interview. 

Cora was still more surprised. “What can she possibly 
want with me?” she asked herself, quite audibly. 

“If you please, ma’am,” volunteered Susan, “she said that it 
was something important; and that she never would have put 
her foot inside this house, begging your pardon, only for you.” 

Flattering though this statement might be, it did not enlighten 
her much. So, after a moment’s reflection, Mrs. Arthur bade 
the girl, “show the old person up.” 

Accordingly, in another moment almost, old Hagar was bow- 
ing very humbly before the lady with the silken flounces. Susan 
retired reluctantly, deeply regretting that she could find no time 
to stop up the key-hole with her ear, thus rendering it impossible 
for prying eyes to peep through that orifice. 

“Well, old woman,” began Cora, rather inelegantly, it must be 


234 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


confessed, “what on earth were you making such a fuss about, 
down on the terrace? And what do you want with me?” 

A close observer of the human countenance divine would 
never have judged, from the small amount of expression that 
was manifest in the face of Hagar, that her reply would have 
been such a very humble one. “ I want to serve you, dear lady.” 

The “dear lady” pursed up her lips in surprise. “You — 
want — ” 

“ To warn you, madame.” 

Cora was dumb with astonishment, not unmingled with ap- 
prehension. What had broken loose now ? 

“I am only a poor old woman, lady, and nobody thinks that 
old Hagar has a heart for the wrongs of others. I said that I 
would never cross John Arthur’s threshold again; but I have 
seen your pretty face, going to and fro through the village 
streets, and I knew there was no one to warn you but me.” 

“Oh, you did,” remarked Cora, not knowing whether to be 
alarmed or amused, at the old woman’s earnestness. “Well, 
old — what’s your name?” 

“Hagar, lady.” 

“Well, old Hagar, do you mean to tell me that I am in any 
particular danger just at present?” 

“Is the dove in danger when it is in the nest of the hawk?” 
said Hagar, closing her eyes tight as she uttered the words, but 
looking otherwise very tragical. 

Cora laughed musically. “Good gracious, old lady!” She 
was modifying her titles somewhat, probably under the influence 
of Hagar’s flatteries. “You mean to compare me to a dove,” 
laughing afresh, “in — a hawk’s nest? Oh, dear! oh, dear!” 
wiping her eyes. “ Now, then, please introduce me to the wicked 
hawk.” 


HAGAR AND CORA. 


235 


Hagar was getting tired of her part, and she made a direct 
rush at the point of the business, and with very good dramatic 
effect. “I mean your husband,” she said, vehemently. “I 
mean John Arthur. He is a bad man. If he has not done it 
already, he will make you miserable by-and-by.” 

Cora drew herself up and tried to look severe. "Old lady,” 
she said, with supernatural gravity, “ don’t you know that it is 
very improper for you to come and talk to me, like this, about 
my husband?” 

" Just hear her!” sniffed Hagar, rather unnecessarily ; " all be- 
cause I think she is too young, and too pretty, to be sacrificed 
like the others — ” 

" Like the others ? What others ?” 

"Like his first wife. She was young, like you, and a lovely 
lady. His cruelty was her death. And then he must worry 
and abuse her poor daughter, until she runs away and comes to 
an untimely end. And now — ” 

"Now, you fear he will make an end of me?” briskly. "Sit 
down, old lady,” becoming still more affable. "So Mr. Arthur 
ill-used his first wife, my predecessor?” 

"Thank you, dear lady; you are very kind to a poor old 
woman,” seating herself gingerly on the edge of a chair opposite 
Cora. "Yes, indeed, he did ill-use her. She was my mistress, 
and I shall always hate him for it.” 

Cora mused. Here was an old servant who hated the master 
of Oakley; might she not prove useful, after a time? At any 
rate, it would be well to sound her. 

"You were very much attached to the lady, no doubt?” in- 
sinuatingly. 

" Yes ; and who would not be? She was very sweet and good, 
was my poor mistress. Oh, he is a bad, bad man, madame, and 
you surely cannot be very happy with him.” 


236 


MADELINE PAYNE. 

“And he was unkind to his step-draughter, too?” ignoring 
the last supposition. 

“Unkind? He was a wretch. Oh, I could almost murder 
him for his cruelty to that poor dead lassie !” fiercely. 

“Perhaps he was none too kind to you/’ suggested Cora. 

“Oh, he never treated me like a human being. He hated me 
because I tried to stand between her and harm. But he could 
not get rid of the sight of me. I have a little home where he 
can’t avoid seeing me sometimes. I believe, if I kept always 
appearing before him, he would go raving mad, he hates me to 
that extent.” 

“Um-m! Is that so?” 

“Yes, indeed. Why, lady, if I were without house or home, 
and you, out of the kindness of your heart, were to take me into 
your employment as the very humblest of your servants, I be- 
lieve he would kill us both.” 

“You think he would?” 

Cora actually seemed to encourage the old woman in her gar- 
rulity. 

“Oh, I know it. It’s not much in the way of charity, or 
kindness, you will be able to do in this house. If he don’t im- 
prison you in one of these old closed-up musty rooms, you will 
be lucky. He is very dangerous. Sometimes I used to think 
he must be insane.” 

Cora started. “Well, Hagar,” she said, sweetly, “it’s very 
good of you to take so much interest in me. He is very cross 
sometimes, but, perhaps, it won’t be so bad as you fear.” 

“I hope it won’t/’ rising to go and shaking her head dubi- 
ously; “but I am afraid for you.” 

“Well,” laughing, “I’ll try and not let him lock me up, at 
any rate. Now, is there anything I can do for you?” 



•'If ever you want to make him feel what it is to make others suffer, 

Hagar will help you " — page 238. 


237 




238 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Oh, no, lady. You looked so pretty, and so good, that I 
wanted to warn you; that is all. I should be glad if I could 
serve you, too, but I could never serve him. I don’t want for 
anything, dear lady. Now the old woman will go.” 

“I won’t forget you, Hagar, if I ever need a friend.” 

Hagar turned toward her. “If you ever want to make him 
feel what it is to make others suffer, Hagar will help you.” 

There was a vindictive light in the old woman’s eyes, and she 
hobbled out of the room, looking as if she meant all she had 
said. 

Cora sat, for a time, pondering over the interview, and try- 
ing to trace out some motive for insincerity on the old woman’s 
part. But she could see none. She resolved ’to investigate a 
little, and all that evening was the most attentive and agreeable 
of wives. Abundant and versatile was her conversation. 
Deftly she led the talk up to the proper point, and then said, 
carelessly : 

“Driving through the village, to-day, I passed that queer 
old woman — Hagar, do they call her? She glared at me, oh ! 
so savagely.” 

“She is an old hag!” Mr Arthur answered, with unnecessary 
fierceness. “ I don’t see what Satan has been about, all these 
years, that he’s not taken her away to her proper atmosphere.” 

“Why,” in pretty surprise, “I thought she used to be one of 
your servants?” 

“She was a servant to my first wife,” moodily. “I got rid 
of the baggage quick enough, when Mrs. Arthur died. She is 
an old viper, and put more disobedience into that girl Madeline’s 
head, than I ever could get gut.” 

“What a horrid old wretch she must be!” shuddering. 

Then the conversation dropped, and Cora was satisfied. 


TO BE, TO DO, TO SUFFER. 


239 


“The oM woman shall be my tool,” she thought, trium- 
phantly. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

TO BE, TO DO, TO SUFFER. 

On the day that followed the events last related, Madeline 
Payne returned to Oakley to resume her self-imposed task. 

Leaving the train, the girl took the path through the woods. 
When she had traversed it half way, she came upon old Hagar, 
who was seated upon a fallen log awaiting her. Looking cau- 
tiously about, to assure herself that the interview would have no 
spectators, Madeline, or Celine, as we must now call her, seated 
herself to listen to the report of JDavlin’s visit, and the success 
of Hagar’s interview with Cora. 

Expressing herself fully satisfied with what she heard, Celine 
made the old woman acquainted with the result of her visit to 
the city, or as much of it as was necessary and expedient. Then, 
after some words of mutual council, and a promise to visit her 
that evening, if possible, the girl lost no time in making her way 
to the manor, and straight into the presence of her mistress. 

Considering that her maid was — her maid, Miss Arthur wel- 
comed her with an almost rapturous outburst. Celine had held 
high place in the affections of Miss Arthur, truth to tell, since 
her astonishing discovery of Mr. Edward Percy, in the character 
of young Romeo, promenading within sight of his lady’s window. 

“ Celine,” simpered Miss Arthur, while the damsel addressed 
was brushing out her mistress’s hair, preparatory to building it 
into a French wonder; “Celine, I may be wrong in talking so 


240 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


freely to you about myself and my — my friends, but I observe 
that you never presume in the least — ” 

“Oh, mademoiselle, I could never do that!” cooed the girl, 
with wicked double meaning. 

“ And,” pursued Miss Arthur, graciously, “you are really 
quite a sagacious and discreet young person.” 

“Thanks, miladi.” Then, as if recollecting herself, “Pardon, 
mademoiselle , but you are so like her ladyship, Madame Le 
Baronne Be Orun , my very first mistress—” 

“Oh, I don’t mind it at all, Celine. As I was saying, you 
seem quite a superior young person, and no doubt I am not the 
first who has made you a sort of confidante. 

“Merci! no; my lady. Madame Le Baronne used to trust 
me with everything , and often deigned to ask my advice. But 
French ladies, oui, mademoiselle, always put confidence in their 
maids. And a maid will die rather than betray a good mis- 
tress — ” 

“Exactly, Celine — are you going to put my hair. so high?” 

“Very high, miladi.” 

“Oh, well; will it be becoming?” 

U 0ui; La mode la Franmise ,” relapsing into ecstacy and 
French. “ Le coijfeur comme il faut! Chere amie , le-chef-a- 
ceuvre /” 

Miss Arthur collapsed, and Celine continued to build up an 
atrociously unbecoming pile of puffs and curls in triumphant 
silence. 

Celine never indulged in her native tongue, so she assured 
her mistress, except when carried away by momentary en- 
thusiasm, or unwonted emotion. It was bad taste, she averred, 
and she desired to cultivate the beautiful American language. 

Presently Miss Arthur made another venture, feeling quite 


TO BE, TO DO, TO SUFFER. 


241 


justified in following in the footsteps of so august a personage as 
Madame Le Baronne. 

“ Did you see Mr. Percy after you left Bellair?” 

“No, mademoiselle.” 

“Did you observe if he returned in the same train with your- 
self?” 

“No, mademoiselle.” Then, with a meaning little laugh: 
“Monsieur will not remain long from Oakley.” 

Miss Arthur tried to look unconscious, and succeeded in look- 
ing idiotic. 

“ Pardon, mademoiselle, but I can’t forget that night. Madem- 
oiselle is surely relieved of one fear.” 

“What is that?” 

“ The fear of being wooed because of her wealth.” 

Miss Arthur started, then said: “There may be something in 
that, Celine; and it is not impossible that I may inherit more.” 

“Ah?” inquiringly. 

“Yes. Possibly you have learned from the servants that Mr. 
Arthur lost a young step-daughter not long ago ; just before you 
came, in fact.” 

“I don’t remember. Did she die, mademoiselle?” 

“Yes. She was a very wild, unruly child, a regular little 
heathen — oh !” 

“ Pardon, oh, pardon, did it hurt?” removing a long, spiky 
hair pin, with much apparent solicitude. 

“A — a little; yes. As I was saying, this ridiculous girl was 
sent to school and no expense spared to make a lady of her.” 

“Indeed!” 

“Yes; and then she rewards my brother for all his kindness 
by running away.” 

“ Merci, mademoiselle!” suddenly recalling her French, 

16 


242 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ And then she died among strangers, just as provokingly as 
she had lived. She must even run away to die, to make it seem 
as if her home was not a happy one.” 

“ What a very wicked young person ; how you must have 
been annoyed.” 

“We were all deeply grieved.” 

“And I don’t suppose that dead young woman was even 
grateful for that.” 

“Oh, there was no gratitude in her.” 

“Of course not! Now, mademoiselle, let me do your eye- 
brows,” turning her about. 

“But,” pursued Miss Arthur, “when she died, my brother 
acquired unconditional control of a large fortune, and you must 
see that my brother is getting rather old. Well, in case of his 
death, a part, at least, of this fortune will become mine.” 

“Yes, madame.” 

“My brother is too much afraid to face the thought of death 
and make a new will, and papers are in existence that will give 
me the larger portion of his fortune. Of course, Mrs. Arthur 
will get her third.” 

Celine was now surprised in earnest. 

Miss Arthur had spoken the truth. With shrewd foresight, 
she had made John Arthur sign certain papers two years be- 
fore, in consideration of sundry loans from her. And of this 
state of affairs every one, except their two selves and the nec- 
essary lawyer, had remained in ignorance. 

The girl’s eyes gleamed. This was still better. It would 
make her vengeance more complete. 

And now Miss Arthur was thrown into a state of girlish agi- 
tation by the appearance of Susan, who announced that Mr. 
Percy was in the drawing-room, awaiting the pleasure of his 
inamorata. 


TO BE, TO DO, TO SUFFER. 


243 


She bade Celine make haste with her complexion and, after 
the lapse of something like half an hour, swept down to wel- 
come her lover, with a great many amber silk flounces follow- 
ing in her wake. 

Celine Leroque gazed after her for a moment and then closed 
the door. Flinging herself down “at ease” in the spinster’s 
luxurious dressing chair, she pulled off the blue glasses and let 
the malicious triumph dance in her eyes as much as it would. 

“ Oh, you are a precious pair, you two, brother and sister ! 
The one a knave, the other a fool ! It is really pathetic to see 
how you mourn my loss. I have a great mind to — ” 

Here something seemed to occur to her that checked her mut- 
terings, and sent her off into a deep meditation. After a long 
stillness she uttered a low, mocking laugh that had, too, a tinge of 
mischief in it. Rising slowly from the dressing chair she said, 
as she nodded significantly to her image reflected back from 
Miss Arthur’s dressing glass: 

“ I’ll put that idea into execution some nice night, and then 
won’t there be a row in the castle? Ah ! my charming mistress, 
if you had spoken one kind or regretful word for poor Madeline, 
it would have been better for you !” 

What was the girl meditating now? What did she mean? 

“Yes, good people at Oakley, I believe I’ll take a little private 
amusement out of you all, while I feel quite in the mood. I 
won’t be too partial.” 

Then she betook herself to her own room and let her thoughts 
fly back to Olive and Claire and — Clarence. 

Presently, for she was very weary, spite of the previous night’s 
repose, she fell asleep. 

Late that evening she flitted through the woods and across the 
meadow to the cottage of old Hagar. Sleep had refreshed her 


244 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


and she had dreamed pleasant dreams. She felt stout of heart, 
and firm of nerve. 

Old Hagar was overjoyed to see a smile in her nursling’s face, 
and to hear, at times, a laugh, low and sweet, reminding her of 
olden days. The girl remained with her old nurse for nearly 
an hour. When they parted there was a perfect understanding 
between them, in regard to future movements and plans. 

No one at Oakley was aware of Lucian Davlin’s flying visit; 
thus much Celine knew. But of the purport and result of that 
visit, she knew nothing. Nor could she guess. She must bide 
her time, for there seemed just now little to disturb the monotony 
of waiting. 

One tiling was, however, necessary. When the time came for 
Miss Arthur to leave Oakley, Celine must remain. To that end 
she must contrive to fall out with the spinster, and “fall in” 
with Madame Cora. If that lady could not be beguiled into re- 
taining her at Oakley, she must resort to a more hazardous 
scheme. She had already taken a step toward ingratiating her- 
self with Mrs. Arthur, and with tolerable success. She was 
maturing her plans and waiting for an opportunity to put them 
into action. 

No doubt but that by the time she had accomplished her ob- 
ject, if it could be accomplished, the opposite forces would come 
into conflict. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

SETTING SOME SNARES. 

Three days had now passed since Madeline’s return from the 
city. On the morning of the fourth day, she seized the first 
leisure moment for a visit to the postoffice. Instead of the 


SETTING SOME SNARES. 


245 


single letter from Olive that she had expected, she found three. 

They were enclosed in one wrapper. This she removed on 
her way back to Oakley, and found the first, as was the wrap- 
per, addressed in Olive’s hand. The penmanship of the second 
was fairy-like and beautiful, and she recognized it as Claire’s. 
At sight of the third, her heart gave a great bound, and then al- 
most stood still. It was superscribed in a firm, manly hand, and 
was, it must be, from Dr. Vaughan. 

Once securely locked in her room, Madeline opened the 
first of her letters with eager fingers. Yes, Olive’s first. The 
desire to see what he had said was strong in her heart, but she 
had decided not to humor her heart. She held his letter caress- 
ingly for a moment and then putting it beside Claire’s opened 
and read Olive Girard’s letter. 

It was like Olive’s self ; sweet, womanly, hopeful, yet sad : 
Dear Madeline : 

I am only now beginning to realize the new life and hope you have 
put into my heart. As I think again of what you have done and are do- 
ing, I cannot but feel faith in your success. Oh, if I could but work 
with you ; for you and for Philip ! 

Again and again 1 implore you to pardon me for ever doubting your 
wisdom or strength. If at any time I can aid you— such poor aid— my 
purse is yours, as your cause is mine. 

Claire and Doctor Vaughan will speak for themselves. And as I dare 
make no more suggestions to so wise a woman, I only putin a faint little 
plea. Do, pray, grant Doctor Vaughan’s request, and may God aid you 
in all that you do. Oltve. 

“ Doctor Vaughan’s request!” repeated the girl. “ Would 
that I could grant him not only all his requests, but all his 
wishes !” 

Then she opened Claire’s letter. 

My Grand Madeline : 

How proud I uiu to claim you for my friend ! I shall never again con- 


246 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


duct myself with any degree of meekness toward people who have not 
the happiness of knowing you. And you should hear Doctor Vaughan 
extol you ! He says you are wiser and braver than any detective. That 
he would trust you in any emergency. That if any one can lift the cloud 
that hangs over poor Philip, it is you. 

My heart tells me that you will yet prove the good angel of Philip and 
Olive, as already you have been mine ; and soon, I pray, you will become 
that and more to Doctor Vaughan ; you must and shall. I shall have no 
wish ungratified when I can see your trials at an end; and yourself, sur- 
rounded by us who love you, happy at last. Don’t let all these other 
-claimants push me out of your heart; always keep one little place for your 
loving, grateful Claire, 

Madeline’s eyes were moist when she lifted them from the 
perusal of this letter. 

“ Bright, beautiful, brave Claire/’ she murmured; “who could 
help loving her?” 

Then her eyes fell again upon the letter, and she started : 

“‘You will become that and more to Doctor Vaughan,”’ she 
read. “ What can she mean? Can it be possible that, after all, 
I have betrayed myself to her?” 

She re-read the letter from beginning to end, her face flushing 
and paling. 

“Oh!” she whispered softly, “she has read my heart, and we 
are playing at cross purposes ! What a queer rivalry,” the girl 
actually laughed; “a rivalry of renunciation. Does she yet 
know how he loves her, I wonder?” Then, her face growing 
graver, “she won’t be long in making that discovery now.” 

She took up Clarence Vaughan’s letter, almost dreading to 
break the seal. 

My Brave Little Sister : 

You perceive, I have commenced my tyranny. And instead of being 
able to grant favors to my new sister, I am reduced to the necessity of 
begging them at her hands. In a word, I want to come to Bellair. Not 


SETTING SOME SNARES. 


247 


to be a meddlesome adviser; I am too firmly a convert to your method of 
procedure for that. Besides, I should have to declare war upon 
Miss Keith if I presumed thus far. But Ido desire to further your plans, 
and to this end would make a suggestion that has occurred to me since 
hearing of your marvelous detective work. 

Believe me, I cannot express the admiration I feel for your daring and 
tact. I have no longer the faintest scruple as to trusting this issue, so im- 
portant to all of us, in your hands. And I am more than proud of such a 
sister. 

May I come to Bellair, say on Monday next? I will stop at the little 
station a few miles this side of the village, and walk or drive over, and 
find my way to the cottage of your old nurse, where you can meet me, 
unless you have a better place to suggest. I shall anxiously await your 
answer, and am your brother to command. C. E. Vaughan. 

Madeline’s cheeks were flushed, her eyes shining. 

“How they all trust me!” she ejaculated; “and they always 
shall. I will never be false to their friendship; no, not if to 
serve them my heart’s blood must become wormwood and gall.” 

She re-read all her letters, but would not allow herself to lin- 
ger too long over that of Clarence Vaughan. She had resolved 
to have no more weakness, no more outbreaks of passion. She 
was very stern with herself. Even as a friend and brother, she 
would not allow her thoughts to dwell too much upon him, until 
she grew stronger, and more perfect in her renunciation. 

Then she sat down at her humble little table, and answered 
her letters. 

To Olive she wrote a sweet, cheery note, telling of her grati- 
tude, her affection, her hope for the future; and then she added 
a womanlike P. S. as follows : 

Please say to Doctor Vaughan that I will be at Hagar’s cottage on 
Monday evening, but can’t tell the precise time I may be able to appear. 
If he follows the main road through the village, until he has passed the 
grounds of Oakley, he will have no difficulty in finding the cottage. It 


248 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


stands alone, almost in the middle of a field, facing the west, and is the 
first habitation after Oakley. 

“ I cannot write to him,” she said; “at least not now.” 

Then she wrote Claire a long, cheery letter, saying little of 
herself, and much of her friends, — of all save Doctor Vaughan. 
She would not mention him tenderly, she could not mention him 
lightly; so she would say of him nothing at all. 

But if Madeline was astute, Claire, too, was beginning to de- 
velop that quality. So when the latter young lady read this 
letter, she smiled and said: “ The dear little hypocrite! As if 
she could deceive me by this evidently studied neglect. Oh ! you 
proud, stiff-necked, little detective!” 

And their game of cross purposes went on. 

Madeline had sealed her letters, and was about to reach for her 
hat preparatory to hastening with them to the post office, when 
her attention was arrested by a sound, slight but unusual, and 
not far away. She stood erect, silent, motionless, listening in- 
tently. Presently the sound was repeated, and then a look of 
intelligence passed over the girl’s face. 

“Some one is in the deserted rooms,” she thought. And she 
abandoned for the present her purpose of going out. 

There was but one way to approach the closed-up rooms, and 
that way led past the door of Madeline’s room. 

A few paces beyond her door, the hall connecting the west 
wing with the more modern portion, made a sharp curve and 
opened into the main hall of that floor. Celine Leroque opened 
her door cautiously, having first donned her not veiy becoming 
walking attire. Then she took up her position just outside the 
angle of the western hall, and so close to it that if an approach 
was made from below, she could easily retire behind the angle. 
She had grown heartily tired of her sentinel task when, at last, 



“ She stood erect, silent, motionless,” — page 248. 

249 





250 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


a soft rustle was heard near at hand. Celine turned so quickly 
into the narrower hall that she fairly ran upon and stopped — 
m Mrs. John Arthur ! who uttered a sharp exclamation expressive 
of surprise and annoyance. 

Celine poured forth a mixture of French and English, ex- 
pressive of her contrition and horror at having “ almost over- 
turned madame,” and wound up by saying, “ Madame has been , 
to my room? Madame has desired some service, perhaps? If 
so, she has only to command.” 

Cora drew a breath of relief, having sufficiently recovered from 
the collision and accompanying confusion, to draw a breath of 
any kind, and at once rallied her forces. 

“ Yes, Celine, I wanted you to do something for me, if you 
will.” 

“ Anything, madame.” 

Madame was collecting her thoughts. “ I — I wanted to ask 
if you could find time to come to my room and try and do some- 
thing with my hair. Your hair-dressing is perfect, and I am 
so tired of my own.” 

Celine would be only too happy. Should she come now ? She 
had just returned from the village; she would put off her hat and 
be at madame’s disposal. But madame was not inclined to be 
manipulated just then. Celine might come to her dressing 
room and do her hair for dinner — after she was done with Miss 
Arthur, of course. 

So they separated, mutually satisfied. 


A VERITABLE GHOST. 


251 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

A VERITABLE GHOST. 

What a day of glory it had been to the spinster, this day on 
which Madeline had read her three letters, and Cora had ex- 
plored the shut-up wing. 

And what a day of torture to fastidious Edward Percy, who 
would have welcomed any third presence, even Cora or John 
Arthur — any one, anything, was better than that long slavery at 
the feet of a painted and too-visibly ancient mistress. But even 
the longest days have an end. At last he was set at liberty, and 
he hurried back to the little inn, literally kicking his way 
through the Autumn darkness. 

The old house of Oakley stood, with its last light extinguished, 
tall and somber, against a back-ground of black sky and blacker 
trees. At last every soul under its roof was asleep — all but 
one. That one was very wide awake and intent on mischief. 

Love-making, dear reader, although you may not know it, is 
a wearisome business, even if ever so agreeable. Especially is 
it wearisome to those like Miss Arthur — maidens whose waists 
are too tight, whose complexions will ill-endure lip service, and 
whose tresses are liable to become not only dishevelled but dis- 
located. Therefore, when Miss Arthur had dismissed her lover, 
with a sigh of regret, she lost no time in doffing her glories with 
a sigh of relief. 

Even a very rich and hearty luncheon, which her maid had 
provided, was gormandized rather than enjoyed, so tempting 
did her couch look to the worn-out damsel. 

Miss Arthur had refreshed herself with an hour’s uninterrupted 
repose, and was revelling in a dreamy Arcadia, hand in hand with 


252 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


her beloved, when something cold falling on her cheek dispelled 
her visions. She started broad awake, and face to face with a 
horrible reality. 

The moon was pouring a flood of silvery light in through the 
two windows, facing the south, whose curtains were drawn back, 
making the room almost as light as at mid-day. 

And there, near her bed, almost within reach of her hand, 
stood Madeline Payne , all swathed in white clinging cerements, 
ghastly as a corpse, hollow-eyed and awful, but, nevertheless, 
Madeline Payne! Over her white temples dropped rings of 
curly, yellow hair, and across the pale lips a mocking smile was 
flitting. 

Miss Arthur gasped and closed her eyes very tight, but they 
would not stay closed. They flew open again to behold the 
vision still there. The spinster was transfixed with horror. 
Cold drops of perspiration oozed out upon her forehead and 
trickled down her nose. She clutched at the bedclothes convul- 
sively, and gazed and gazed. 

Wider and wider stared her eyes, but no sound escaped her lips. 
She gazed and gazed, but the specter would not vanish. Poor 
Miss Arthur was terror-stricken almost to the verge of catalepsy. 

In consideration of the persistence with which they return 
again and again, according to- good authority, ghosts in general 
must be endowed with much patience. Be this as it may of the 
average ghost, certain it is that this particular apparition, after 
glaring immovably at the spinster for the space of five minutes, 
began to find it monotonous. 

Slowly, slowly from among the snowy drapery came forth a 
white hand, that pointed at the occupant of the bed with silent 
menace; 

The spell was broken. The lips of Miss Arthur were unclosed, 



•c 


"Near the bed, almost within reach of her hand, stood Madeline Payne, 

all swathed in white 1” — page 252. 


253 


254 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


and shrieks, one following the other in rapid succession, re- 
sounded in the ears of even the most remote sleepers. 

With the utterance of her first yell, Miss Arthur had made a 
desperate plunge to the further side of her bed, away from the 
specter; and, turning her face to the wall, shut out thus the ap- 
palling white vision. 

Having once found her voice, Miss Arthur continued to 
cjutch at the bed clothes, glare at the wall, and shriek spasmodi- 
cally, even after her “ inner consciousness” must have assured 
her that the room now held others beside herself and the ghost, 
supposing it to be still on the opposite side of the bed. 

Cora, in a state of wild deshabille ; John Arthur, ditto, and 
armed with a cane; Susan and Mary, half in the room and half 
out; then Celine Leroque, apparently much frightened, with- 
out knowing at what. 

A volley of questions from the master of the house, and a re- 
turn of courage to the mistress. But Miss Arthur only gathered 
herself together, took in a fresh supply of breath, and embarked 
in another series of howls. 

Nothing was amiss in the room; it could not have been a 
burglar. The night lamp was burning dimly behind its heavy 
shade; on the table were the fragments of Miss Arthur’s lunch; 
and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur had found easy access through the 
closed, but unbolted door. 

After a time, a long time, during which Cora and Celine ad- 
ministered sal volatile and other restoratives, Mr. Arthur 
douched her with oaths and ice water, and the servants whis- 
pered in a group, the maiden found voice. 

It was a very feeble voice, and it conveyed to her audience 
the astounding intelligence that she had seen a ghost — Madeline 
Payne’s ghost. 


A VERITABLE GHOST. 


255 


Upon hearing her story, John Arthur seemed at first a little 
startled. But Cora only laughed, and Celine, glancing signifi- 
cantly at the lunch table, said, with a slight smile : 

“ Mademoiselle has nerves, and she may have lunched heartily 
before retiring.” 

John Arthur strode across the room and viewed the debris of 
1 uncheon . “ Humph ! ” he grunted . “ Oysters and salads, potted 

meat and pastry; strong coffee and lemon syllabub with brandy. 
Good Lord, I don’t know what should have kept the contents 
of an entire cemetery from sweeping down upon your slumbers, 
you female gourmand. Ghosts indeed!” 

And he stamped out of the room in high dudgeon. His tirade 
was wholly lost upon his sister, however, for that lady was 
whimpering comfortably and putting all her feeble energy into 
the effort. 

Cora glanced up as the door banged mfe r her lord and master, 
and ordered the servants back to bed. Then she turned toward 
Celine, saying: 

“That door was certainly not locked when we came to it, for 
I was here even sooner than Mr. Arthur.” 

Celine smiled again: “ Mademoiselle dismissed me before she 
had finished her luncheon. I had disrobed her previously, and 
she said she should retire as soon as she drank her coffee. She 
may have forgotten the door.”' 

Cora turned toward the bed. “Did you lock your door, 
Ellen?” 

But Ellen did not know; she could not remember if she had 
or had not. 

Then Cora said to Celine : “I am glad to find you so sensi- 
ble. We shall have hard work now to convince those ridiculous 
servants that there is not a ghost in every corner.” 


256 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“I do not think that graves open,” replied the girl, seriously. 

Then she gave her undivided attention to her mistress, who 
bade fair to be hysterical for the rest of the night. 

Miss Arthur would not be left alone again. No argument 
could convince her that the specter was born of her imagination, 
and therefore not likely to return. So Cora bade Celine prepare 
to spend the remainder of the night in Miss Arthur’s dressing 
room. 

Accordingly, Celine withdrew to her own apartment, where 
her preparations were made as follows-: 

First, she shook out the folds of a sheet that hung over a chair, 
and restored it to its proper place on the bed. Then she re- 
moved from her dressing stand a box of white powder, and 
brushed away all traces of said powder from her garments 
and the floor. Next, she carefully hid away a key that had 
fallen to the floor and lay near the classically folded sheet. 
These things accomplished, she made a few additions to her 
toilet, extinguished the light, locked her door carefully, trying 
it afterward to make assurance doubly sure, and retraced her 
steps to relieve Cora, who was dutifully sitting by the spinster’s 
bed, and beginning to shiver in her somewhat scanty drapery. 

As the night wore on, and Miss Arthur became calmed and 
quiet, the girl lay back in the big dressing chair, gazing into the 
grate, and thinking. Her thoughts were sometimes of Claire, 
sometimes of Clarence ; of the Girards, and of Edward Percy ; 
then of her success as a ghostess, and at this she would almost 
laugh. 

But from every subject her mind would turn again and again 
to one question, that repeated itself until it todv the form of a 
goblin and danced through her dreams, when at last she slept, 
whispering over and over : 


SOME DAYS OF WAITING. 


257 


“ What is it that Cora Arthur carries in a belt about her 
waist? what is it? what is it?” 

For the girl had made a strange discovery while Cora was 
sitting beside Miss Arthur’s bed, clad only in night’s scanty 
drapery. 


CHAPTER XXV. 

SOME DAYS OF WAITING. 

Doctor Vaughan had written that he could find his way with 
ease to Nurse Hagar’s cottage, and he did. 

Swinging himself down upon the dark end of the platform, 
when the evening train puffed into Bellair village, he crossed 
the track, and walked rapidly along the path that led in the 
direction of the cottage. He strode on until the light from the 
cottage window . gleamed out upon the night, and his way led 
over the field. Half way between the stile and the cottage, a 
form, evidently that of a woman, appeared before him, and com- 
ing in his direction. 

The figure came nearer, and a voice, that was certainly not 
Madeline’s, said : “ Is the gentleman going to old Hagar’s 
cottage?” 

“Are you Hagar?” replied Clarence, Yankee fashion. 

“I am Hagar; and you are?” 

“Doctor Vaughan.” 

“Then pass on, sir; the one you seek is there.” 

And the old woman waved her hand toward the light and 
hobbled on. 

Clarence stared after ner for a moment; but the darkness 
17 . 


258 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


had devoured her, and he resumed his way toward the cottage. 

In hastening to meet a friend we naturally have, in our mind, 
a picture. Our friend will look so, or so. Thus with Clarence 
Vaughan. Expecting to meet a pair of deep, sad, beautiful eyes, 
lifted to his own; to behold a fair forehead shadowed by soft, 
shining curls; judge of Clarence’s surprise when the opened door 
revealed to him a small being of no shape in particular; a very 
black head of hair, surmounted by an ugly maid’s cap; and a 
pair of unearthly, staring blue glasses. 

Madeline had chosen to appear “ in character” at this inter- 
view. She intended to keep her own personality out of sight, 
and she felt that she needed the aid and concealment that her 
disguise would afford. She would give Claire’s schemes no 
vantage ground. 

So Madeline Payne was carefully hidden away under the wig 
and pigment and padding; and Celine Leroque courteseyed 
demurely as she held the door open to admit him, and said : 

“ Good evening, Monsieur le Doeteur; you perceive I am here 
before you.” 

“ Rather, I don’t perceive it. You are here before me in a 
double sense of the word ; yes. And I suppose you call your- 
self—” 

“ Celine Leroque, at your service; maid-in-waiting to Miss 
Arthur, of Oakley.” 

Doctor Vaughan laughed. 

“Well, won’t you shake hands with an American of no special 
importance, Celine Leroque?” 

She placed her hand in his and then drew forward a chair. 

“I hope you found no difficulty ,in getting out to-night?” he 
said, sitting down and looking at her with a half-amused, half- 
grave countenance. 


SOME DAYS OF WAITING. 


259 


“None whatever ; I have been suffering with a sick-headache 
all day.” 

“And you can get in again unseen? ’ 

“Easily; in the evening the servants are all below stairs.” 

“ But what an odd disguise ! Do they never question your 
blue glasses?” 

“Not half so much as they would question the eyes without 
them. They believe my eyes were ruined by close application 
to fine needle-work. And then — ” she pushed up the glasses a 
trifle, and he saw that the eyelid, and a line underneath the eye, 
were artistically rouged — “ they all acknowledge that my eyes 
look very weak.” 

“ I fancy they’ll find those eyes have looked too sharply for 
them, by and by.” 

She laughed lightly. “I hope so.” 

Sitting there in her prim disguise, the girl felt glad to gaze 
upon him ; felt as if, look as much as she would, she was gazing 
from a safe distance. 

Dr. Vaughan came straight to the point of his visit, begin- 
ning by requesting a repetition of such portion of the facts she 
had discovered as related most particularly to the two men, 
Davlin and Percy. Then he made his suggestion. To his sur- 
prise it was a welcome one to the girl. 

“That is just what I have had in mind,” she said, thought- 
fully. “After reflecting, I have changed my plans somewhat, 
and I don’t see my way quite so clearly as before.” 

He was looking at her attentively, but asked no questions. 

“ Since I came from the city,” she resumed, with some hesita- 
tion, “ I have thought that I would be glad to talk again with 
all of you. But it won’t do to incur the risk of more absences, 
for if I do not mistake the signs, things will be pretty lively up 


260 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


there,” nodding in the direction of Oakley, “ before many days. 
So perhaps we had better see what our two heads can develop 
in the way of counterplot, and you can make known the result 
to Olive.” 

“If your own invention will not serve, I fear mine will be 
at an utter loss. But you know how glad I shall be to share 
your confidence.” 

“ My invention must serve,” she said, firmly, and quite ignor- 
ing the latter clause of his speech; “and so must yours. You 
see, my plan before going to the city was a comparatively simple 
one. I intended to work my way into the confidence of Mrs. 
John Arthur. Failing in that, Hagar must have been rein- 
stated, and then the denouement would have been easy: to get 
possession of specimens of the medicine prescribed for Mr. 
Arthur ; to hunt down this sham doctor they are to introduce 
into the house; to show John Arthur the manner of wife he has; 
to make my own terms with him, and then expose and turn 
out the whole pack. But all this must be changed.” 

“ Changed ? And how ?” 

“I can’t turn them out of Oakley. I must keep them there, 
every one of them, at any cost.” 

Dr. Vaughan looked puzzled. “We can’t allow them to kill 
that old man, not even to vindicate poetical justice,” he said, 
gravely. 

.“ Yo; we can’t allow just that. But don’t you see, if we turn 
these people away now, we defeat a chief end and aim — the 
liberation of Philip Girard ?” 

“True.” 

“Well, this is why I have changed my plan.” 

He looked at her with an admiration that was almost 
homage. 


SOME DAYS OF WAITING. 


261 


“ And you will give up your own vengeance, for the sake of 
Olive and her happiness ?” 

She laughed oddly. “Not at all. I only defer it, to make 
it the more complete. Now, listen to what I propose to do, and 
see if you can suggest anything safer or better .” 

And then she unfolded a plan that made Clarence Vaughan 
start in amazement, but which, after it was fully revealed, he 
could not amend nor condemn. He could see no other way by 
which all that they aimed at could be accomplished. 

“Of course, the plan has its risks,” concluded the girl. “ But 
we could try no other scheme without incurring the same, or 
greater. And I believe that I shall not fail.” 

“ I wish it were not necessary that you should undergo so 
much; think what it will be for you,” gently. 

“Oh, for me, . . .” indifferently; “I shall be less of a 

spy, and more of an actress, — that is all.” 

“Then I shall set the detectives at work?” 

“ Immediately.” 

“Have you any further instructions, any clue, to give 
them?” 

“Nothing ; it is to be simply a research. Neither must know 
to what end the information is desired. It will be better to em- 
ploy your men from different Agencies, so that one may not 
know of the other, or his business.” 

“And is there nothing more I can do?” 

“Nothing, for the present. When once we get these men to- 
gether, we shall all have our hands full. Then you can help 
me, perhaps, as I suggested.” 

“Well,” sighing, and looking at his watch, “it's a strange 
business, and a difficult, for a young girl like you. But we are 
in your hands ; you are worth a thousand such as I.” 


262 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Nonsense,” she said, almost angrily. Then, abruptly, 
“When does Claire return to Baltimore?” # 

He started and flushed under her gaze. “ I — I really don’t 
know.” 

“Then, as my brother, I command you to know all about 
Claire. She is my special charge to you. And you are to tell 
her, from me, that I won’t have her go away.” 

“ Then I must do all in my power to detain her? Your com- 
mand will have more effect than all of my prayers,” he said, 
softly. 

“ Well, keep on reiterating my commands and your prayers, 
then ; by and by she won’t be able to distinguish the one from 
the other. What time is it?” 

He smiled at the sudden change of tone and subject. “Half- 
past nine,” he said. 

While the words were on his lips, Old Hagar entered. 

Clearly it was time to end the interview. Doctor Vaughan 
must be ready for the return train, which flew cityward soon, 
and Celine Leroque must not be too long absent. So there were 
a few words more about their plans, a few courteous sentences 
addressed to Hagar by Doctor Vaughan, and then they separ- 
ated. 

The next day two men were at work, — following like sleuth 
hounds the trail on which they were put, unravelling slowly, 
slowly, the webs of the past that had been spun by the two men 
who were to be hunted down. 

And now came a time of comparative dullness at Oakley. 
Even eventful lives do not always pace onward to the inspiring 
clang of trumpet and drum. There is the bivouac and the time 
of rest, even though sleeping upon their arms, for all the hosts 
that were ever marshalled to battle. 




264 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Celine Leroque found life rather more dreary than she had 
expected during these days of inaction. After all, it is easier to 
be brave than to be patient. So, in spite of her courage and 
her self-sacrifice, she was restless and unhappy. 

And she was not alone in her restlessness. It is curious to 
note what diverse causes produce the same effects. Cora Arthur 
was restless, very restless. The fruit of her labor was in her 
hands, but it was vapid, tasteless, unsatisfying. What her soul 
clamored for, was the opera, the contact of kindred spirits, the 
rush and whirl, the smoke and champagne, and giddiness of the 
city ; the card-won gold, and painted folly that made the be-all 
and end-all of life to such as she. 

She did not lose sight of the usefulness she trusted to find in 
Celine Leroque, however. During these days of ennui and 
quietude, the two came to a very good understanding; not all at 
once, and not at all definite. Only, by degrees, Cora became 
convinced that Celine Leroque cherished a very laudable con- 
tempt for her would-be-girlish mistress, and that she was becom- 
ing rather weary in her service. Once, indeed, the girl had 
said, as if unable to restrain herself, and while dressing Mrs. 
Cora’s yellow hair — a task which she professed to delight in : 

“ Ah ! madame, if only it was you who were my mistress ! It 
is a pleasure to dress a beautiful mistress, but to be constantly 
at war against nature, to make an old one young — faugh ! it 
is labor.” 

And Cora had been much amused and had held out a sugges- 
tion that, in case of any rupture between mistress and maid, the 
latter should apply to her. 

But if existence was a pain to Celine, and a weariness to Cora, 
it was anguish unutterable to Edward Percy. He would have 
been glad to put a long span of miles between his inamorata and 


NOT A BAD DAY’S WORK. 


265 


himself had he not felt that, with Cora in the same house as his 
fair one, it were more discreet to be on the ground, and watch 
over his prey pretty closely. But to this man, who made love 
to every pretty woman as a child eats bon bons, the task of 
wooing where his eye was not pleased, his ear was not soothed, 
and his vanity not in the least flattered, was intensely weari- 
some. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

NOT A BAD DAY’S WORK. 

The first thing that Doctor Vaughan did on returning from 
Bel lair, was to seek an interview with Henry, the dark servant 
of Lucian Davlin. 

It was a mixed motive that had first prompted Henry to 
espouse the cause of a helpless, friendless girl ; a motive composed 
of one part inward wrath, long nourished, against the haughty 
and over-exacting Lucian, and one part pity for the young girl 
who, as his experienced eyes told him, was not such as were the 
women who had usually been entertained by his master. 

He had expected to assist her to escape from the place, to en- 
joy his master’s chagrin, and to see the matter end there. But 
Madeline’s illness had changed the current of events, and 
strengthened his determination to stand her friend, if need be, 
more especially when Olive, pressing upon him a generous gift, 
had signified her wish that he should continue in Madeline’s ser- 
vice. She had added that when he chose to leave his present 
master, she would see that he fell into no worse hands, for so 
long as the girl remained upcler that shelter, Olive felt that 


266 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


the man must be their servant, not Davlin’s. And, to do him 
justice, Henry had long since become truly attached to the two 
ladies. 

He lost no time in responding to the summons of Doctor 
Vaughan, and was eager to know of the welfare of the “ young 
lady” and Mrs. Girard. Doctor Vaughan satisfied him on this 
point, and then said : 

“ I api authorized by Miss Payne to see you, and ask some 
questions that she thinks you may be able to answer. First, 
then,” said the doctor, in his kindly manner, “ how long have 
you been with your present master?” 

“ Nearly three years, sir.” 

“ And how long has the woman whom he calls Cora been 
known to you?” 

“She has been known to me all that time, sir,” replied 
Henry. 

“You first saw her in company with Davlin?” 

“Ho, sir; she came to his rooms when I had been there but a 
few days, and ordered me about like a countess. I didn’t know 
the ropes then, but she made me know my duty soon enough,” 
dryly. 

“Evidently, then, she and your master were friends of long 
standing, even at that time?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“You used to hear them talk often, I suppose?” 

“ I used to hear parts of their talks. They seemed not to care 
to have even so much of a machine as I, hear them at all times.” 

How, will you try and recall some of these fragments t)f 
talk? Think if you heard them speak of their travels, together 
or separately; and if you can recall the names of any persons or 
places they have mentioned.” 


NOT A BAD DAY’S WORK. 


26? 


Henry pondered. “ I think/’ he said, after a time, “ that 
they have been in Europe together. In fact, I am sure of it .’ 1 

Doctor Vaughan started. “Oh! that is to the point. You 
don’t recall any time mentioned ?” 

“No, sir. They used ft) talk of luck with the cards, and 
sometimes spoke of operas or plays, and almost always disagreed. 
Sometimes I would hear him describing men to her, and she 
seemed to be getting ready for a part in some ‘game’ that he 
was trying to play.” 

“Very likely.” 

“ Once I heard them having high words about some old man 
that she had been fleecing, and he said that she had carried the 
thing too far; and that if she did not keep out of the old man’s 
way, she might get into trouble. I heard the name,” putting 
a forefinger to his forehead and wrinkling his brows; “it was — 
was — Verage; ‘Old Verage,’ she called him.*- 

“Verage!” 

“That was the name; I am sure, sir.” 

Clarence took out a note-book, and made an entry. 

“When did this conversation take place ?” he asked, 

“ Not more than two months before the young lady was brought 
there, sir.” 

“Ah!” Evidently a fresh glimmer of light had been thrown 
on the subject. “And you heard nothing more about this old 
man?” 

“No, sir. I think she must have gone away from town at 
that time, for I did not see her again, until — ” here Henry 
seemed to catch at some new thought. 

“Until when?” asked Doctor Vaughan, with some eagerness. 

“The day before the young lady came,” said Henry, in a low 
tone, and moving a step nearer the doctor. “ Madame Cora came 


268 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


dash ing up in a close carriage, and she wore a heavy veil . I noticed 
that because she was rather fond of displaying her face and hair, 
and I hardly ever saw her wear anything that would hide them. 
She came up-stairs and ordered me to send a telegram, which 
she had already written, to my master. I sent it, and she stayed 
there all day. She sent me out for her meals, and I served them 
in the large room. She spent the most of the time in walking 
up and down — that was her way when she was worried or angry — 
and looking out between the curtains. My master answered the 
telegram, but when the midnight train came in, a man who went 
down in the country with him, a sort of tool and hanger-on of 
his, came to me while I was waiting below, and told me to tell 
Mistress Cora that the train was a few minutes late.” 

“ Stop a moment. This man, who was Da vl in’s companion, — 
what was his name?” 

“I never hear^him called anything but ‘The Professor.’” 

“The Professor! And how did he look?” making another 
entry in the note-book. 

“He was a middle-aged man, sir, not so tall as master, rather 
square in the shoulders, and stout built. He wore no beard, 
and was always smoking a pipe.” 

“Very good,” writing rapidly. “Now, then, let us return to 
the lady.” 

“Well, sir, she was very impatient until my master came, and 
then they had a long talk. I heard him speak of the old man 
Verage again, and she seemed a little afraid, or annoyed, I don’t 
know which. Then he seemed to be telling her of some new 
scheme, and there was a great deal of planning and some chaffing 
about her going into the country. Just at daybreak they sent 
me for a carriage, and she went away in it, closely veiled as be- 
fore. He told her he would join her without fail. I have not 


NOT A BAD DA\ r, S WORK. 


269 


seen her since. That same morning he brought the beautiful 
young lady to his rooms, and,” smiling so as to show all his 
white teeth, “I think you know all the rest, sir.” 

Clarence nodded and then appeared lost in thought. Finally, 
he lifted his head from the hand that had supported it, and 
said : 

“ Since your master has returned to town, how does he em- 
ploy his time?” 

“Very much as usual.” 

“And that is in — ” 

“ Gaming.” 

“ Is it true, Henry, that the room below your master’s apart- 
ments is fitted up for private gambling?” 

Henry stirred uneasily, and looked his answer. 

Doctor V aughan smiled. “ I see how it is,” he said. “ Well, 
then, this man, the Professor, do you see much of him of late?” 

“A great deal, sir; he is very often with my master at his 
rooms, but they never go out together. They have had a great 
deal of privacy lately ; something new is afoot.” 

“ The man is a sort of decoy-duck, I fancy ?” 

“Yes; what the gamblers call a capper, or roper-in.” 

“Well, Henry, I think I won’t detain you longer now. 
Take this,” putting into his hand a twenty-dollar bill, “ and 
keep your eyes and ears open. If your master leaves town, ob- 
serve if the Professor disappears at the same time.” 

Henry expressed his gratitude and his entire willingness to 
keep an eye upon the doings of Mr. Davlin and the Professor, 
and bowed himself out, muttering as he went: “They will 
make it lively for my fine master before very long, and I think 
I am on the side that will win.” 

Meantime, Clarence Vaughan, quick in thought and action, 


270 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


was hurrying on his gloves preparatory to a sally forth on a new 
mission. Henry had given him a hint that might turn out of 
much value, for among the patients then on the young doctor’s 
visiting list, was one Verage, old, ugly, and fabulously rich. 

First of all, Clarence Vaughan called at the Agency which 
had been decided upon as the best one to entrust with the in- 
vestigation relative to Mr. Edward Percy. He gave his man 
no clue to the present whereabouts of his subject, but set him 
back ten years or more, sending him to visit the scenes of school 
episode, and bidding him trace the life of the man, with the aid 
of such clues as he thought best to give, up to that time. Next, 
he visited another Agency, and placed a man upon the track 
of Lucian Davlin. 

Then he called a carriage and drove straight to the residence 
of old Samuel Verage. It was early in the day for a profes- 
sional visit or for a visit of any kind. Nevertheless, Doctor 
Vaughan was admitted without delay, to the presence of the 
master of the house. 

Old Samuel Verage sat in his large, softly-cushioned arm- 
chair, in a gorgeously beflowered dressing gown. 

He was glowering over the dainty dishes which had lately 
contained a bountiful breakfast. Evidently he fancied that the 
doctor had called in anticipation of a serious morning attack, or 
to choke off his too greedy appetite, for he chuckled maliciously 
as Clarence entered the room, and greeted him with, 

“Oh! You thought you were ahead of me this time, didn’t 
you ? I say, now, did you think I would be worse this morning?” 

Clarence surveyed his patient with considerable amusement. 

“ You won’t suffer from a hearty breakfast. It is the supper 
that you must look out for. But my call this morning was, in 
part, to inquire about a lady.” 


NOT A BAD DAY'S WORK. 


271 


“ About a lady! Of course, of course: go ahead; who is 

she?” 

“ That’s precisely what I want to know. The fact is, my 
business is rather peculiar, and delicate.” 

The old man rubbed his hands gleefully. “ Good ! very good ! 
A mystery about a woman ! Come out with it; don’t be back- 
ward.” 

“Very well; the woman that I want to inquire about has 
been known as Cora Weston.” 

Old Verage fairly bounced out of his seat as he yelled: 
“Cora Weston! Where is she? What do you know about 
her?” 

“Not quite enough, or I should not have ventured to inquire 
of you,” said Clarence, calmly. 

Old Verage tumbled into his chair again. “Then you don’t 
know where she is?” sharply. 

“ What could you do if I put her in your power ?” 

“Lock her up in jail, if I wanted to,” fiercely. 

Little by little Clarence Vaughan extracted from the old man 
the details of the plausible scheme by which Davlin and Cora 
had succeeded in transferring a very considerable amount of cash 
from his pockets to their own. He felt elated at the result of 
this interview. It placed a weapon in his hands that might be 
wielded with telling effect when time served. 

“Well, you may be able to get even with her yet,” he said, 
rising to go, after Verage had concluded his tirade; “many 
thanks for giving me some information. I may be able to re- 
turn the compliment soon.” 

“But hold on !” cried Verage, as if seized by a new thought; 
- 1 say, now, what is all this questioning about?” 

“Some of her sharp practice has come to my knowledge, and 


272 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


she has made a little trouble for one of my friends. I want to 
know all that I can about her, for it may be necessary to put a 
stop to her career.” 

With a renewed expression of his thanks for the information 
given, Clarence bowed himself out of the old man’s presence, 
with a sense of relief at inhaling the fresh, pure air of the outer 
world. Then he turned his steps homeward, assured that it had 
been a good day’s work well done. 


CHAPTER XXVH. 

CLAIRE TURNS CIRCE. 

There was more to tell than to learn, when Clarence called, a 
day or two later, at the villa. 

The expert who had been dogging the steps of Lucian Davlin, 
had made his report, it is true. But that report was a very un- 
satisfactory affair: 

A man, whom Clarence readily identified with the Professor, 
was an almost constant visitor at the rooms of the Man of Luck, 
but they, that is, the Professor and Davlin, were never seen on 
the street together, nor, indeed, anywhere else. In short, Lucian 
Davlin had been closely shadowed, but with no success to speak 
of. He came and went just as such a man usually does. And 
no person that might be made to answer for a doctor, had been 
visited by him or had visited him unless, and this began to ap- 
pear possible, the Professor himself was the man. 

After a long and serious discussion of the pros and cons of 
the case, Qliye and. Clarence decided they would instruct the 


CLAIRE TURNS CIRCE. 


273 


detective to transfer his attentions to the Professor, only keep- 
ing a general surveillance over Davlin. They began to fear that 
they were watching the wrong man. 

Those were pleasant days to Doctor Vaughan; the days 
when he rode down to the pretty villa to consult with Olive 
and to look at Claire. 

And those were pleasant days to Claire as well. Once, and 
that not long before, she had taken but little interest in Clarence 
Vaughan. She had thought of him very much as had Madeline 
that first night of their meeting, when she looked at him sitting 
near her in a railway carriage, and regarded him as just a 
“ somewhat odd young man with a good face.” Now, Madeline 
thought him not only the noblest but the handsomest of men. 
And Claire was beginning to agree with her. 

But on one thing she was determined. Doctor Vaughan must 
learn to look upon her only as a friend, and he must learn to 
love Madeline. So Claire and Clarence vied with each other in 
chanting the praises of Madeline Payne, and learned to know 
each other better because of her. 

One day when he called, Claire chanced to be alone. Some- 
how she found it hard to be quite at her ease when there was 
no Olive at hand, behind whom to screen her personality from 
the eyes that might overlook that sisterly barrier, but could not 
overleap it. If his eyes had said less, or if she could have com- 
pelled her lips to say more ! But Per usually active tongue 
seemed to lack for words and she found herself talking in a 
reckless and somewhat incoherent manner upon all sorts of 
topics, which she dragged forward in order to keep in check the 
words which the look in his eyes heralded so plainly. 

When she was almost at her wit’s end, and tempted to flee 
ingloriously in search of Olive, that lady entered and Claire felt 



274 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


as if saved from lunacy. But she could not quite shake off the 
consciousness that had awakened in her, and soon framed an ex- 
cuse for leaving the room. Once having escaped, she did not 
return, nor did Olive see her again until she came down to 
dinner, and Doctor Vaughan had gone. 

While lingering over that meal, Olive said, after they had 
talked of Madeline through three courses, “I think, by-the-by, 
that Doctor Vaughan expected to see you again before he went.” 

If I were writing of impossible heroines, I might say that 
Claire looked conscious; but real women who are not all chalk 
and water, do not display their feelings so readily to their moth- 
ers and sisters. So Claire Keith looked up with the countenance 
of an astonished kitten. 

“To see me? What for?” 

“How should I know, if you don’t?” smiling slightly. 

“ And how should I know ?” carelessly. 

“Well, perhaps I was mistaken. But why have you kept 
your room all this afternoon ?” 

“ I have been packing. Please pass the marmalade.” 

“Packing!” mechanically reaching out the required dainty. 

“ Yes, packing. You don’t think I came to spend the winter, 
do you ?” 

“But this is so sudden.” 

“Now, just listen, you unreasonable being!” assuming an air 
of grave admonition. “ Don’t you know that I have overstayed 
my time by almost a month ?” 

“Yes, but—” 

“Well, don’t you know that if I tell you beforehand that I 
am going, you always contrive excuses and hatch plots, to keep 
me at least three weeks longer?” 

“ I plead guilty,” laughed Olive. 


CLAIRE TURNS CIRCE. 


275 


“Well, you see I have staid out my days of grace already. 
And knowing your failing, and feeling sure that I could not 
humor it, I have just taken advantage of you, and packed my 
trunks.” 

“And you won’t stay just one more little week?” 

Claire laughed gleefully. “ What did I say? It is your old 
cry. Now, dear, be reasonable. Mamma wants me, and the 
boys want me. You have plenty of occupation just now. It 
will take you one-third of the time to keep me informed of all 
that happens.” 

“Well,” sighed Olive, “of course you must go sometime; but 
you don’t mean to go to-morrow ?” 

“I do, though.” 

“What will Doctor Vaughan say?” 

“Whatever Doctor Vaughan pleases. I can’t lose a day to 
say good-by to him, can I ?” 

“But why didn’t you tell him good-by to-day?” 

Claire looked up in some surprise. “Upon my word, I never 
thought of it.” 

And she told the truth. She had thought only of how she 
could avoid another meeting. 

Olive looked puzzled. “And I supposed that you liked 
Doctor Vaughan,” she said, after a moment’s pause. 

“ Why, and so Ido; I was very careless. Olive, dear, pray 
make my adieus to him, and all the necessary excuses. I do 
like the doctor, and don’t want him to think me rude.” 

And. Olive accepted the commission, and was deceived by it. 
For she, absorbed in her own fears and hopes, was not aware of 
the drama of love and cross purposes that was being enacted 
under her very eyes. 

When Clarence called, on the next day but one, he found, to 


276 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


his surprise tmd sorrow, that the bright face of the girl he loved 
so well was to smile upon him no more, at least for a time. 
Making his call an unusually brief one, he rode back to the city 
in a very grave and thoughtful mood. Or, rather, the gravity 
and thoughtfulness usual in him was tinged with sadness. 

On the same day, almost at the same hour, Claire Keith stood 
in her mother’s drawing-room, answering the thousand and one 
questions that are invariably poured into the ears of a returned 
traveler. 

By and by, drawing back the satin curtain, that shaded the 
windows of the drawing-room, Claire gazed out upon the familiar 
street which seemed smiling her a welcome in the Autumn sun- 
shine. Finally she uttered an exclamation of surprise, and 
turned to Mrs. Keith. 

“ Merci ! Mamma ! what has happened to the people across the 
way? Why, I can’t catch even one glimpse of red and yellow 
damask, not one flutter of gold fringe; have the parvenus been 
taking lessons in good taste? Positively, every blind is closed, 
and there isn’t a liveried being to be seen.” 

Mrs. Keith laughed softly. “ I don’t know what has happened 
to the parvenus, my dear, but whether good or bad it has taken 
them away, liveries and all. The house has a new tenant, who 
is not so amusing, perhaps, but is certainly more mysterious. 
So, after all, the exchange may not have been a gain to the 
neighborhood.” 

Claire peeped out again. “A mysterious tenant, you say, 
mamma ? That must be an improvement. What is the Mystery 
like?” 

Mrs. Keith smiled indulgently on her daughter. 

“ There is not much to tell, my love. I don’t know whether 


CLAIRE TURNS CIRCE. 


277 


the lady who has taken the house is young or old, handsome or 
ugly, married or single. She lives the life of a recluse; has 
never been seen, at least by any of us, to walk out. But she drives 
sometimes in a close carriage, and always with a thick veil hiding 
her face. She is tall, dresses richly, but always in black, al- 
though the fabric is not that usually worn as mourning. She 
moves from the door to her carriage with a languid gait, as if 
she might be an invalid. No one goes there, and I understand 
she is not at home to callers, although, of course, I have not 
made the experiment myself. There, my dear, I think that is 
about all.” 

“She seems to be a woman of wealth?” 

“ Evidently ; her horses are very fine animals, and her carriage 
a costly one. Her servants wear a neat, plain livery, and ap- 
parently her house is elegantly furnished.” 

“ And mamma,” said Robbie, who had been standing quietly 
at her side, “you forget the flowers.” 

“ True, Robbie. Every day, Claire, the florist leaves a basket 
of white flowers at her door.” 

“I like that,” asserted Claire. “She must have refinement.” 

“She certainly has that air.” 

“Well,” said Claire, laughing lightly, “I shall make a study 
of the woman across the way.” 

With that the subject dropped for the time. But as the days 
went on, and she settled herself once more into the home routine, 
Claire found that not the least among the things she chose to 
consider interesting was the mysterious neighbor across the way. 

And now, having put considerable distance between herself 
and Edward Percy, she wrote him a few cool lines of dismissal. 

And here again the individuality of the girl was very mani- 
fest. Many a woman would have written a scathing letter, 


278 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


telling the man how thoroughly unmasked he stood in her sight, 
letting him know that she was acquainted with all his past and 
his present, and bidding him make the most of the infatuation 
of the last victim to his empty pockets, the ancient Miss Arthur. 

What Claire did was like Claire ; and perhaps, after all, she 
best comprehended the nature she dealt with. Certainly no 
tirade of accusing scorn could have so wounded the self-love of 
the selfish, conscienceless man as did her cool farewell missive. 

Edward Percy was in a very complaisant mood when Claire’s 
letter reached him. True, he had received no reply to his two 
last effusions ; but knowing that Claire must be soon returning 
to her home, if she had not already gone, he assured himself 
that it was owing to this that he had received no letter as yet. 
He never doubted her attachment to himself. That was not in 
his nature. 

Opening a rather heavy packet, as he sat in his cosy sitting- 
room, out dropped two letters; two letters full of poetry and 
fine sentiment, that his own flexible hand had penned and ad- 
dressed to Miss Claire Keith. His letters, and returned with the 
seals unbroken. He could scarcely believe the evidence of his 
senses. His handsome, treacherous, light-blue eyes darkened 
and widened with astonishment and anger. 

He never moved in a hurry, never spoke in a hurry, never 
thought in a hurry. And slowly it dawned upon his mind to 
investigate further and find some clue that would make this un- 
heard-of thing appear less incomprehensible. Accordingly he 
took up the envelope that had contained his rejected letters, and 
drew from them a brief note: 

“Baltimore, Saturday, 6th. 

It will scarcely surprise Mr. Percy to learn that Miss Keith desires now 
to end an acquaintance that has been, doubtless, amusing “intellectually” 
and “ socially” to both. 


THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 


279 


Of course, a gentleman so worldly-wise as himself can never have been 
misled by the semblance of attachment, that has seemed necessary in 
order to make such an acquaintance as ours at all interesting. A flirtation 
based upon a “sympathy of intellect,” must of necessity end sooner or 
later, and has, no doubt, been as harmless to him as to Claire Keith. 

Yes, without doubt Claire knew how to hurt this man most. 
He was not permitted to know that she felt the keen humilia- 
tion, which a proud nature must suffer 'when it discovers that it 
has trusted an unworthy object. Instead, he was to feel himself 
the injured one; the one humiliated. He, the deceiver, must 
own himself deceived. When he believed himself loved, he was 
laughed at. His own words were flung in his teeth ip an in- 
solent mockery. “A sympathy of intellect;” yes, he had used 
these words so often. He had obeyed the beckoning of a Circe, 
and now she held out to him his swine’s reward of husks. 

Edward Percy had been dissatisfied with others, with circum- 
stances, and surroundings, many a time and oft ; but to-day, for 
the very first time, he felt dissatisfied with himself. 

And Claire had revenged her wrongs twofold. 


CHAPTER XXYHI. 

THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 

Always, in life, little events pave the way for great catastrophes. 
The mine burns slowly until the explosive point is reached, and 
then — 

Fate was taking a leisurely gait, seemingly, and moving af- 
fairs at Oakley with a deliberation that was almost hesitating. 
Nevertheless, things were moving, and in the wake of little 


280 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


events, great ones could already be discerned by the plotters and 
counter-plotters, who waited and watched. 

Celine Leroque was in better spirits than usual, in these days. 
Indeed, considering how exceedingly probable it seemed that 
she would be turned adrift at any hour by her present mistress, 
Celine was very cheerful. 

And Miss Arthur had cause to complain. Beyond a doubt 
her French maid was becoming careless, veiy careless. Some- 
times Miss Arthur was inclined to think that her scant locks of 
well-dyed hair were pulled quite unnecessarily, while her head 
was under Celine’s hands. But this she endured like a Spartan, 
only exclaiming when the torture became unbearable. And 
when she finally ventured a protest, disastrous was the outcome. 

With many an apology, Celine fingered the curls and braids, 
inquiring with every touch of the hand or adjustment of a hair- 
pin: “ Does that hurt, mademoiselle?” 

Being assured, when the hair-dressing was done, that she had 
accomplished the task without inflicting so much as a single 
twinge of pain, she held open the door for her mistress, cooing 
her satisfaction and beaming with delight. 

But alas for the poor spinster ! Before she had been half an 
hour in the society of her beloved fiance, her unfortunate habit 
of tossing and wriggling her head brought Coline’s gingerly 
architecture to grief. A sudden twist tumbled down full half 
of the glossy “ crown of glory” from Miss Arthur’s head to 
Mr. Percy’s feet, and — we draw a veil over the confusion of the 
unhappy spinster. 

The lady having retired to her dressing-room to relieve her 
feelings and repair damages, a scene was enacted in which the 
lady did the histrionics and the maid apologized and giggled al- 
ternately, until the one ted exhausted Iter antliem of yrath 


THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 


281 


and the other her accompaniment of penitence and giggles. 

Then a truce was patched up, which lasted for several days. 

Celine had advanced to the verge of disrespect, when speaking 
of Mr. Percy, on more than one occasion. Several times she 
had said that he “ had a familiar look/ 5 and she fancied she had 
seen him somewhere. But she had always checked herself on 
the very border-land of impertinence, and never had been able to 
tell if she really had before seen the gentleman or no. 

But she had put the spinster on the defensive, and had also 
excited her curiosity. 

During this time Mrs. John Arthur was slowly dropping into 
her role of invalid. First, she gave up her habitual walks about 
the grounds and on the terrace. Then, her drives became too 
fatiguing. Next, she found herself too languid to appear at 
breakfast, and that meal was served in her room. She was not 
ill, she protested ; only a trifle indisposed. Let no one be at all 
concerned for her; she should be as well as usual in a few days. 
And Celine, who was very sympathetic, and was the first to sug- 
gest that a physician be consulted, was laughingly assured that 
if madame were sick, she, Celine, should be her head nurse. 

Mrs. Arthur had been absent from the family breakfast table 
for two days, when Miss Arthur met with a fresh grievance at 
the hands of Celine. 

Celine had been unusually garrulous, and had been regaling 
her mistress' with descriptions of the great people, and the 
magnificent toilets she had seen, while with some of her former 
miladis. Suddenly she dropped the subject of a grand ball 
which had transpired in Baltimore, where her mistress was the 
guest of the honorable somebody, to exclaim : 

“ It has just come to me, mademoiselle, where I must have 
seen Monsieur Percy. It was in Baltimore, and they said — ” 


282 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Here she became much confused, and pretended to be fully oc- 
cupied with the folds of her mistress’s dress. 

Miss Arthur looked down upon her sharply, and asked, 
“ What did they say ?” 

Celine stammered: “Oh, it was only gossip, mademoiselle; 
nothing worth repeating, I assure you.” 

The curiosity and jealousy of the spinster were fully aroused. 
“Don’t attempt any subterfuges, Celine,” she said, in her loftiest 
tone. “I desire to know what was said of my — Mr. Percy.” 

The girl arose to her feet, and with much apparent reluctance > 
replied : 

“They said, mademoiselle — of course, it was only gossip—- 
that he was very much of a fortune-hunter, and that he was en- 
gaged to some woman much older than himself, who was im- 
mensely rich.” 

Miss Arthur sat down and looked hard at her maid. “ How 
do you know that Mr. Percy is that man?” 

“Oh! I don’t know, my lady — mademoiselle. I only said 
that I thought I have seen him in Baltimore; the Mr. Percy 
they used to talk of there, must have been another.” 

Miss Arthur looked like an ancient Sphinx. “Do you think 
that Mr. Percy is that man?” she asked. 

“ Merci ! my lady, how can I tell that? It might have been 
he; and the old woman there might have disappointed him, you 
know,” artlessly. 

Miss Arthur was literally speechless with rage. Without re- 
plying, she rose and swept into the adjoining room, closing the 
door behind her with a bang. 

Celine smiled comfortably, and went to minister unto Cora, 
to whom she confided her belief that Miss Arthur was dissatis- 
fied with her, and meant to discharge her. “And only think, 


THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 


283 


madame,” she said plaintively, “it is all because, in an unguard- 
ed moment, I compared her to an old woman. It is so hard 
to remember, always, that you must not tell an old woman she 
is not young.” 

And Cora laughed immoderately, for she much enjoyed her 
sister-in-law’s discomfiture. 

But Miss Arthur did not dismiss the matter from her mind, 
when she banged the door upon Celine. Angry as she had been 
with that damsel, it was not anger alone that moved her. Jeal- 
ousy was at work, and suspicion. 

That evening, sitting beside her lover, she said to him, 
carelessly: “By the way, Edward, were you ever in Balti- 
more?” 

The gentleman stroked his blonde whiskers, and smiled lan- 
guidly as he answered: “In Baltimore? Oh, yes; I think 
there are few cities I have not visited.” And then something 
in the face of Miss Arthur made him inquire, with a slight ac- 
celeration of speech : “But why do you ask?” 

Miss Arthur considered for a moment, and replied : “ My 
maid, Celine, thinks that she has seen you there.” 

She was watching him keenly, and fancied that he looked just 
a trifle annoyed, even when he smiled lazily at her, saying: 
“Indeed ! And when is your maid supposed to have seen me 
there?” 

“ I don’t know when,” — Miss Arthur was beginning to feel in- 
jured; “I suppose you are well known in society there?” 

He smiled and still caressed his chin. “So so,” he said, in- 
differently. 

“Edward !” — the spinster could not suppress the question 
that was heavy on her mind — “ were you ever engaged to a lady 
in Baltimore ?” 


284 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


He turned his blue eyes upon her in mild surprise. “Never,” 
he said, nonchalantly. 

She looked somewhat relieved, but still anxious, and the man, 
after eyeing her for a moment, placing one hand firmly upon 
her own, said, in a tone that was half caress, half command, 

“ Ellen, you have been listening to gossip about me. Now, 
let me hear the whole story, for I see it has troubled you, and I 
will not have that.” 

She, glad to unburden her mind, told him what Celine had 
said. Perhaps Celine had counted upon this, and was making, 
of the unconscious Mr. Percy, a tool that should serve her in 
just the way that he did. At all events, while he listened to the 
spinster, he assured himself that if the French maid were not, 
for some reason, an enemy, she was certainly a meddler, and 
that she must quit Miss Arthur’s service. 

He said nothing to this end that* evening. But he fully 
satisfied Miss Arthur that he was not the person referred to by 
the girl. And to guard against further inquiries or accidents, 
he told her of several men of the name of Percy, who were much 
in society, and might be, any one of them, the man in question. 

And his fiance was calmed and happy once more. 

She was as clay in the potter’s hands, and Mr. Percy found 
it an easy matter to convince her, a few days later, that her in- 
valuable maid was not the proper person to have about her. 
Accordingly, one fine morning, Celine was informed, in the 
spinster’s loftiest manner, that her services were no longer de- 
sired, and a month’s wages were tendered her, with the assur- 
ance that Miss Arthur “ had not been blind to her sly ways, and 
trickery, and that she had only retained her until she could suit 
herself better.” 

Celine took her conge in demure silence, and sought Mrs. 


THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 


285 


Arthur forthwith. Cora was really glad that she could at last 
command the girl, for many reasons, and they quickly came to 
an understanding. 

Great was the surprise and inward wrath of the spinster when, 
within ten minutes from the time Celine had left her presence, 
a maid without a mistress, she appeared again before her, and 
laying upon the dressing case the month’s wages she had received 
in lieu of a warning, said : 

“ Mademoiselle will receive back the month’s wages, as J have 
not been in the least a loser by her dismissal. I enter the ser- 
vice of madame immediately.” 

And then Celine had smiled blandly, bowed, and taken her 
departure, leaving the spinster to wonder how on earth she should 
manage her hair-dressing, and to wish that Edward had not in- 
sisted upon setting the girl adrift until a substitute had been 
found. 

The fact that the girl was retained in the house annoyed Mr. 
Percy not a little. But it did not surprise him that Cora should 
wish to keep her. He had long before made the discovery that 
the sisters-in-law were not more fond of each other than was es- 
sential to the comfort of both. 

Celine had been but two days in the service of her new mis- 
tress when that lady found herself too ill to be dressed for 
breakfast, even in her own room, and she kept her bed all day. 

John Arthur, in some alarm, had declared his intention of 
calling a physician. But Cora objected so strongly that he had 
refrained. Before evening came, however, Celine sought him, 
as he was sitting in what he chose to call his “ study,” and said: 

“ Pardon my intrusion, monsieur, but I am distressed about 
madame. This afternoon she is not so well, and surely she 
should have some medicine.” 


286 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


The old man wrinkled his brows in perplexity, as he repliKl : 
“ Yes, yes, girl ; but she won’t let me call a doctor.” 

Celine sighed, and moving a step nearer, murmured: “Mon- 
sieur, I will venture to repeat what madame but now said tome, 
if I may.” 

He signed her to proceed. 

“Madame said that a stranger would only make her worse; 
that she would distrust anyone she did not know ; but that if 
her dear old physician, who had attended her always in sickness, 
could see her, she would be glad. Alas! he was in New York, 
and she did not like to ask that he might be sent for. It would 
seem to you childish.” 

Of course this speech had been made at Cora’s instigation, but 
it had the desired effect. John Arthur bounded up, and bade 
Celine precede him to his wife’s chamber; and the result of his 
visit was what the invalid had intended it to be. She was so 
pretty, and so pathetic, and so very ill ! Celine declared that she 
was growing more fevered every moment, and as for her pulse, 
it was like a trip-hammer. 

J ohn Arthur had an unutterable fear of illness, and after trying 
in vain to persuade Cora to see one of the village doctors, whom, 
he declared, were very good ones, he announced his intention to 
telegraph to the city for the doctor who had been her adviser in 
earlier days. 

And to this Cora reluctantly consented. “It seems foolish,” 
she said, plaintively, “and yet I don’t think I ought to refuse to 
send for Doctor Le Guise. I feel as if I were really about to 
be very ill, hard as I have tried to fight off the weakness that is 
coming over me.” 

“ And madame is so flushed, and wanders so in her sleep,” — - 
this, of course, from Celine. 


THE CURTAIN RISES ON THE MIMIC STAGE. 


287 


John Arthur arose from the side of the couch with considera- 
ble alacrity, saying: a I will telegraph at once. What is the 
address?” 

Cora lay back among her pillows, with closed eyes, and made 
no sign that she heard. He spoke again, and the eyes unclosed 
slowly, and she said, with slow languor : 

“Send to my brother; he will find him.” Then closing her 
eyes, she murmured, “ I want to sleep now.” 

Celine turned toward him an awe-struck countenance and 
motioned him to be silent. He tip-toed from the room, thoroughly 
frightened and nervous, and sent a message to Lucian Davlin 
forthwith. 

When he was safely away, Cora awoke from her nap, and 
desired Celine to let in more light. This done, she propped 
herself up among her pillows, and taking from underneath 
one of them a novel, bade her maid tell everybody that she was 
not to be disturbed, while she read and looked more comfortable 
than ill. 

Towards evening, John Arthur looked in, or rather tried to 
look in, upon his wife. But Celine assured him that her mis- 
tress was sleeping fitfully and seemed much disturbed and agita- 
ted at the slightest sound, so his alarm grew and increased. 

When the evening train came he hoped almost against reason 
that it would bring the now eagerly looked for Dr. Le Guise. 

But no one came. Later, however, a telegram from Lucian 
arrived, which read as follows: 

Doctor can’t get off to-night. Will be down by morning train. 

D . 

In the morning, Cora -was much worse. She did not recog- 
nize her husband, and called Miss Arthur, Lady Mallory, which 
made a great impression upon that spinster. 


288 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


f 

Celine, who seemed to know just what to do, turned them both 
out, which did not displease either greatly, as the brother and 
sister were equally afraid of contagion, and were nervous in a 
sick-room. 

At length the doctor arrived, and with him Lucian Davlin, 
the latter looking very grave and anxious, the former looking 
very grave and wise. 

Celine was summoned to prepare the patient for the coming 
of the physician. When this had been done, and the wise man 
arose to go to his patient, John Arthur and Lucian would have 
followed him. But he waved them back, saying: “Not now, 
gentlemen, if you please ; let me examine my patient first. That 
is always safest and wisest.” 

So the three, Lucian, Arthur, and his sister, sat in solemn 
silence awaiting the verdict of the doctor from Europe. At 
last he came, and the gravity of his face was something to mar- 
vel at. Advancing toward Mr. Arthur, the doctor seemed to be 
looking him through and through as he asked : 

“Will you tell me how lately you have been in your wife’s 
room.” 

John Arthur answered him with pallid lips. “We were there 
this morning, my sister and I.” 

The doctor turned toward Miss Arthur, looking, if possible, 
more serious than ever. 

“I am sorry, very sorry,” he said. “And I hope you have 
incurred no risks. But it is my duty to tell you that Mrs. 
Arthur is attacked with a fever of a most malignant and con- 
tagious type, and you have certainly been exposed.” 

Mr. Arthur turned the color of chalk and dropped into the 
nearest chair. Miss Arthur, who could not change her color, 
shrieked and fell upon the sofa. Lucian groaned after the 



“1 am sorry, very sorry.” — page 288. 

. - , 19 



289 







290 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


most approved fashion. And the man of medicine continued, 

“ Above all things, don’t agitate yourselves; . be calm. I 
would advise you to retire to your own rooms, and remain there 
for the present. I will immediately prepare some powders, 
which you will take hourly. We will begin in time, and hope 
that you may both escape the contagion.” 

Then lie turned to Mr. Davlin. “My dear boy, you had 
better go back to the city ; at least go away from the house. 
This is no place for you.” 

But Lucian shook his head, and said that he would not leave 
while his sister was in danger. 

The following morning Dr. Le Guise presented himself at the 
door of Miss Arthur’s dressing-room. After making many in- 
quiries, such as doctors are wont to terrify patients with, he pro- 
nounced upon the case: She had thus far escaped contagion. 
But her system was not over strong ; in fact, was extremely 
delicate. If there was any place near at hand, suited to a lady 
like herself, his advice was to go there without delay. She was 
not rugged enough to risk remaining where she was. 

Before sunset, Miss Arthur was quartered at the Bellair inn. 
She had dispatched Mr. Percy a note the day before, bidding 
him delay his visit. Now she was under the same roof with 
him, greatly to her delight, and his disgust. 

John Arthur had not fared so well at the hands of the learned 
physician. He had swallowed his powders faithfully and hope- 
fully, but the morning found him languid and dismal, with 
aching brain and nauseated stomach. 

The doctor shook his head, and bade him prepare for a slight 
attack of the fever. It promised to be very slight, but he must 
keep his room, for a few days at least, and attend to his medi- 
cine and his diet. 

And so the drama had commenced in earnest. 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


291 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

A STARTLING EPISODE. 

Claire Keith had said truly that the woman across the way 
would prove interesting to her. 

She grew more and more fond of watching for the tall form, 
with its trailing robes of black, its proudly-poised, heavily- 
veiled head, and slow, graceful movement. Sometimes she saw 
a white hand pull away the heavy curtains, and knew that the 
owner of the hand was looking out upon the street. But the 
face was always in shadow. She could not catch the slightest 
glimpse of it. 

“ She has strong reasons for not wishing to be seen and recog- 
nized; I wonder what they are?” Claire would soliloquize at 
such times. 

Then she would chide herself for being so curious. But the 
fits of wondering grew stronger, until she came to feel an attrac- 
tion that was more than mere curiosity ; a sort of proprietorship, 
as it were, in the strange lady. She began to wish that she 
might know her, and at last, in a very unexpected manner, the 
wish was gratified. 

Claire had returned from a grand ball, weary and somewhat 
bored. Disrobing with unusual haste, she sought her couch. 
She had supposed herself very sleepy, but no sooner was her 
head upon the pillow, than sleep abandoned her, and she tossed 
restlessly, and very wide awake. 

Finding sleep impossible, and herself growing nervous, Claire 
at length arose, Throwing on a dressing-gown, she pushed a 


292 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


large chair to the window, and flinging herself in it, drew back 
the curtain. Glancing across the way, she was startled by a 
light shining out from the upper windows of the mysterious 
house. She had looked at that house when quitting her carriage, 
because to look had become a habit. But there had been no 
light then; not one glimmer. And now the entire upper floor 
was brilliantly illuminated. 

Claire rubbed her eyes and looked again. Then, with a cry 
of alarm, she sprang to her feet and rang her bell violently. 

From the roof of the house a single flame had shot up, and 
Claire realized the cause of that strange illumination. The upper 
floor was in flames! 

She turned up the gas and commenced making a hurried toilet. 
By the time the sleepy servant appeared in answer to her ring, 
she was wrapping a worsted shawl about her head and shoul- 
ders, preparatory to going out. 

“ Bouse papa and the servants, James !” she commanded, 
sharply. “ Number two hundred is on fire ! Go instantly !” 

Giving the startled and bewildered James a push in the direc- 
tion of her father’s sleeping-room, she darted down the stairs. 
She unbolted and unchained the street door, and hurried straight 
across to number two hundred, where she rang peal after 
peal. 

The tiny flame had grown a great one by this time, and al- 
most simultaneously with her ring at the door, the hoarse fire- 
alarm bell roared out its warning. 

It seemed an age to the girl before she heard bolts drawn back. 
Then the face of an elderly male servant peered cautiously 
out through a six-inch opening. In sharp, quick tones Claire 
told him that the roof was in flames. The statement seemed 
only to paralyze the man. 


A STARTLING EPISODE. 


293 


Claire gave the door an excited push and spoke to him again. 
But he never moved until a voice, that evidently belonged to 
the lady of the house, said : “ What is it, Peter ?” 

Claire answered for him: “ Madame, the roof of your house 
is in flames! Alarm your servants and make your escape !” 

Through the doorway Claire saw a white hand laid on the 
man’s shoulder, and suddenly he became galvanized into 
life. 

Then the chain fell, and the door opened wide. 

Claire and the mysterious lady were face to face. 

By this time the people were moving in the street, and from 
the windows of Claire’s home, lights were flashing. 

The woman drew back at the sound of the first footstep, and 
seemed to hesitate, with a look of uneasiness upon her face. In- 
stantly Claire spoke the thought that had been in her mind when 
she rang the bell : “ Madame, your house will soon be surrounded 
by strangers. Secure such valuables as are at hand and come 
with me across to my home. There you will be safe from in- 
truders.” 

The lady raised her hand, and saying, simply, “ Wait,” hur- 
ried up the broad stairs. 

Now all was confusion. Down the street came the rushing 
fire engines; servants ran about frantically, and people went 
tearing past Claire in the crazy desire to seize something and 
smash it on the paving stones, thereby convincing themselves 
that they were “ helping at a fire.” Regardless of these, Claire 
stood at her post like a little sentinel. Just as the first engine 
halted before the house, the mistress of all that doomed gran- 
deur crossed its threshold for the last time. Then she turned to 
Claire, and the two hurried silently through the throng, and 
across the street. The door was fortunately ajar. The servants 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


291 


and Mr. Keith were all outside, so the girl and her companion 
had been unobserved. 

Claire led the way straight to her own room. Ushering in 
her companion, she closed the door upon chance intruders, and 
turned to look at her. The stranger had appeared at the door 
in a dressing-gown of dark silk, and this she still wore, having 
thrown over it a long cloak, and wrapped about her head, so as 
to almost entirely conceal her features, a costly cashmere shawl. 
This she now removed, and revealed to the anxious gaze of 
Claire the face of a woman past the prime of life ; — a face that 
had never been handsome, but which bore unmistakable signs 
of refinement and culture in every feature. The eyes were 
large, dark-gray, and undeniably beautiful. The hair was wavy 
and abundant; once it had been black as midnight, but now it 
was plentifully streaked with gray. The face was thin and al- 
most colorless. The hands were still beautiful, with long slender 
fingers and delicate veining; the, very beau ideal of aristocratic 
hands. 

This much Claire saw almost at a glance. Then the lady said, 
in a low, sweet voice that was in perfect unison with the hands, 
and eyes, and general bearing : 

“ I cannot tell you, dear young lady, how much I thank you 
for your courage and hospitality. I could not have endured the 
going out upon the street in that throng.” 

Claire laughed softly, and said, with characteristic frank- 
ness: “I guessed that, madame, for I must confess to having, 
on more than one occasion, seen that you do not desire obser- 
vation.” 

The stranger looked at her with evident admiration. “ You 
were kinder and more thoughtful for a stranger than I have 
found most of our sex, Miss ; I beg your pardon; I am 



“The mistress of all the doomed grandeur crossed the threshold for the 
last time.” — page 293. 


295 



296 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


so much of a hermit that I don’t even know your name.” 

“My name is Keith, — Claire Keith.” 

Then the girl crossed to the window and looked over at the 
burning building, while the stranger sank wearily into a chair. 

“Your house is going fast, madame. I fear nothing can be 
saved,” said Claire. “ The upper floor is already gone.” 

The stranger smiled slightly, but never so much as glanced 
out at her disappearing home. 

“I hope my landlord is well insured,” she said. “As for 
me, I have my chiefest valuables here,” drawing from under- 
neath the cloak, which she had only partially thrown off, a 
small casket, and a morocco case that evidently contained papers. 
“I keep these always near me; as for the rest, there is nothing 
lost that money cannot replace.” 

Claire looked a trifle surprised at her indifference to the de- 
struction of her elegant furniture, but made no answer. And 
the stranger fell into thoughtful silence. 

A rap sounded on the door, and a gentle voice outside said : 
“Claire, dear, are you there?” 

The girl turned upon the stranger a look of embarrassed in- 
quiry. “That is mamma,” she said. 

The lady smiled half sadly at her evident perturbation, and 
replied, with a touch of dignity in her tone, “Admit your 
mother, my dear. I was about to ask for her.” 

Claire drew a sigh of relief and opened the door. 

“ My child,” began Mrs. Keith, as she hurriedly entered the 
room, “James tells me that you — ” 

Here she broke off as her eyes fell upon the stranger, and 
Claire hastened to say: “Mamma, this*s the lady whose house 
is burning. I ran over there as soon as I saw the first flame 
and asked her to come here.” 


A STARTLING EPISODE. 


297 


Mrs. Keith was not only a lady, but a woman 6f good sense, 
and she turned courteously toward the intruder, saying, “You 
did quite right, my dear. I trust you have not been too seri- 
ously a loser by this misfortune, madame.” 

The lady had risen. Now she stepped forward and said, in 
her unmistakably high-bred tones, “I have suffered no material 
injury, I assure you. And your daughter has done me a great 
kindness. I was about to ask if I might see you, as I felt that 
it was to you, as the mistress of this house, that I owed some ex- 
planation regarding myself, before accepting further hospitality 
from your daughter.” 

Mrs. Keith bowed gravely, and the stranger continued, 

“My name is Mrs. Ralston. I have lived for nearly ten 
years a secluded life, having been an invalid. Messrs. Allyne & 
Clive are my bankers, and have been for years. Mr. Allyne is 
an old family friend. If you will ask your husband to call 
upon him, you will be assured that I am not a mysterious ad- 
venturess.” 

Mrs. Ralston smiled slightly, and Mrs. Keith smiled in return 
as she said, cordially : “ Your face and manner assure me of 
that, Mrs. Ralston. And now" will you not permit me to show 
you a room where you can rest a little, for it is almost morning, 
and your night’s repose has been sadly disturbed.” 

“ I must accept your hospitality, Mrs. Keith, and ask to be 
allowed to intrude upon you until I can communicate with Mr. 
Allyne, and he can find me a suitable place of residence.” 

“Don’t let that trouble you, pray. We shall be happy to 
have you remain our guest,” and Mrs, Keith turned to leave the 
room. 

Mrs. Ralston held out her hand to Claire, and that impulsive 
young lady claspec] it in both her owp, as they bade each other 


298 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


good-night. And so the mysterious lady was actually under the 
same roof with the girl who had been so much interested in her 
and her possible history. 

Mr. Allyne was well known to Mr. Keith, and a man whom 
he highly esteemed. On the following day, at the request of 
Mrs. Ralston, he called at the banking-house of Allyne & Clive. 

On learning that Mrs. Ralston was the guest of his brother 
banker, and of the demolition of her house, Mr. Allyne was 
doubly surprised. And his statement concerning the lady was 
not only satisfactory but highly gratifying. She had been left 
an orphan in her girlhood, and was from one of the oldest and 
proudest of Virginia’s old and proud families. She had now 
no very near relatives, and having separated from a worthless 
husband, had lived mostly in Europe. She had resumed her 
family name, and although the husband from whom she had 
withdrawn herself, had squandered nearly half her fortune, she 
was still a wealthy woman. He spoke in highest terms of praise 
of her mind and accomplishments, and assured Mr. Keith that 
she was not only a woman of unusual refinement and culture, 
but one also of loftiest principles and purest Christianity. If 
it were not that it would be the very place where this worth- 
less husband would be likeliest to find her, he would not allow 
her to occupy any home save his own. And, lastly, Mr. Allyne 
stated that if he, Mr. Keith, could prevail upon Mrs. Ralston 
to remain under his roof, he would do Mr. Allyne a great favor. 

“For,” concluded that gentleman, “she lives too secluded, and 
she is so well fitted for such society as that of your wife and 
daughter; she is a woman to grace any household.” 

Mr. Keith returned home and faithfully reported all that he 
had heard concerning their guest. 

Claire had been very much in love with the grave ? stately lady 


WAITING. 


299 


from the first, and after a morning’s chat with her, Mrs. Keith 
was not far behind in admiration. 

And the woman who had lived alone so much, found this 
cheery little family circle very pleasant, so when Claire and her 
mother begged her with much earnestness to remain with them, 
she did not refuse. 

“ I cannot resist the invitation which I feel to be so sincere/’ 
she said. “I will remain with you for a time, at least, but I 
am too much of a hermit to tarry long where there is such a 
magnet as this,” turning to Claire. 

And Claire laughingly declared that she would forswear 
society, and don a veil of any thickness, if only Mrs. Ralston 
would share her isolation. 

So she stayed with them, and soon became as a dearly loved 
sister to Mrs. Keith; while between herself and Claire, an at- 
tachment, as unusual as it was strong, sprang into being. They 
drove together, read together, talked together by the hour, and 
never seemed to weary of each other’s society. 

Enthusiastic Claire wrote to Olive and Madeline, giving glow- 
ing descriptions of her new found friend. But because of the 
events that were making Olive and Madeline doubly dear to 
her, and because she could not speak of them to a stranger, 
however loved and trusted, Claire said little to Mrs. Ralston of 
her sister or of the little heroine of Oakley. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

WAITING. 

The expert who had been tracing out the goings and doings of 
Percy, made his report. 


300 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


After it had been thoroughly reviewed by Clarence and Olive, 
they were forced to confess that they were not one whit the 
wiser. The detective had found how and where Percy had 
squandered much of his fortune, but had brought to light ab- 
solutely nothing that could be of use to his employers. And so 
they abandoned the investigation in that direction. 

But when the report of the Professor’s case was sent in, they 
found more cause for congratulation. First, it had been dis- 
covered that the Professor had visited three different physicians, 
all of them men bearing reputations not over spotless. Next he 
had made sundry purchases from two different chemists; and 
third, last and all important, he had been dogged to the bazaar 
of a dealer in theatrical wares, where he had purchased a wig, 
beard, and other articles of disguise. 

Two days had passed since the above discoveries were reported. 
Then the detective called upon Dr. Vaughan and informed him 
that M:\ Davlin and the Professor, the latter disguised with 
wig, beard and spectacles, had taken the early morning train 
that very day, and that he, the detective, had been lounging so 
near that he heard Davlin call for two tickets to Bellair. 

And then they knew that the siege had begun. 

Three days later, Olive received the following letter, which 
speaks for itself: 

Oakley, Wednesday Evening. 

Dear Olive : 

The engagement has opened in earnest. 

Last evening, Mr. D. and le Docteur, between them, frightened the two 
maids out of the house. This morning I succeeded in scaring away the 
old housekeeper, which made a shortage in servants. Old Hagar hap- 
pened along just then by some chance, and declared herself not at all 
afraid of contagion ; somadame bade her brother employ her. The cook 
remains, as Monsieur and le Docteur mu9t eat. My meals are served in 
madame’s dressing-room, and,shared by that lady. 


WAITING. 


301 


Courage, my friend, our time is almost here. And I am yours till 
death, M . 

This letter was perused by Olive and Clarence with almost 
breathless eagerness and interest. And then they found them- 
selves once more waiting eagerly for fresh tidings from the 
“ seat of war,” as Clarence termed it. 

At last came a letter from Madeline that aroused them as the 
clarion stirs those arrayed for battle. It ran as follows, bear- 
ing neither date nor signature: 

To Arms, My Friends ! 

If you were among the village gossips to-day, this is what you would 
hear, for it is what is fast spreading itself through the town: 

The lady up at the mansion has been very ill, but is now better. Her 
husband took the fever from her, and, being old’ and his constitution 
enfeebled by the dissipation of his earlier days, he came near dying. 
Now they hope that he will live, although the danger is not yet passed. 
But if he does live he will never be himself again. The fever has affected 
his brain, and he will be hopelessly mad. 

That is what the villagers know. 

What they do not know is, that Mr. D and the doctor have already 

fitted up two rooms in the most secluded part of the closed-up wing, 
and that the “ insane” man will be removed to those rooms to-night. 

One fact concerning le Docteur, your expert has failed to discover, is 
that at some time the man has made a study of medicine. This is only 
a theory of mine, not a discovery ; but when I tell you what he did, I 
think that you both will agree with me. A few days ago the doctor 
walked down to the village one morning, and coolly presented himself 
at the door of Doctor G ’s office. 

Doctor G is the least popular and least skillful of the three 

physicians here, but of course the city man was not supposed to know 

that. He, the city doctor, informed Doctor G that although his 

employer had not desired it, as he had perfect confidence in the present 

treatment of Mr. A , still it was always his practice to consult with 

another physician. 

So he desired Doctor G to accompany him to O and see his 


302 


MADELINE PAYNE. 

patient ; not that he had any doubts about the disease, but because, in 
case of a serious termination, it was always a consolation to the friends 

to know that every precaution had been taken. Doctor G came, to 

find the patient in a bedrugged stupor. He endorsed everything le 
Docteur chose to say, and went away feeling much puffed-up because of 
having been called in to consult with a New York physician. 

You see they are moving very carefully, and do not intend to have any 
doubts raised. 

Miss A of course remains in the village, and receives reports 

daily concerning her brother, and her Knight is still at her elbow. 

Henry has been here for a week, and does not dream of my identity. 

llagar and myself, between us, have managed to get possession of a 

specimen of every drug that has been administered to Mr. A . also 

of the harmless nostrums that are dealt out to madame for appearance’s 
sake. 

There is but one thing more that I must accomplish, and that must be 
done to-night, if possible. If I succeed in this, two days more will see 
me en route for the city. If I fail— then I must femain here, if I can, and 
try again. In any case, I must make my new move within the week. So 
look out for the chrysalis ; it remains for you to develop it into the but- 
terfly. 

This letter chanced to arrive during one of Doctor Vaughan’s 
afternoon visits, and Olive read it aloud to him, saying at the 
end, and almost without taking breath, 

“ Something she must accomplish first. If she has secured the 
medicines, and they are safe not to run away in her absence, 
then what is it she means?” 

Clarence shook his head, saying: “I have no idea. She 
speaks as if the thing, whatever it is, was attended with some 
risk.” 

“And this explains Henry’s absence,” Olive said, tapping the 
letter in her lap. “No doubt he was summoned without any 
previous warning. Of course, he is a mere tool for his master. 
They will hardly dare let him' see their game.” 


MR. PERCY SHAKES HIMSELF. 


303 


“ Hardly; but if they were not using him to Madeline’s satis- 
faction, she would have revealed herself to him.” 

“True.” 

“We are approaching a crisis now. If this new movement 
fails, — but I hardly think it will.” 

Olive looked up in alarm. “Oh, don’t suggest failure,” she 
exclaimed. “She must succeed. What will become of poor 
Philip if she does not?” 

Clarence lifted his face reverently. “ I believe that the Power 
above us, who permits evil to be because only from pain and 
sorrow comes purification, has not permitted the life of this 
beautiful young girl to be darkened in vain. Out of her wrongs, 
and her sorrows, and her humiliation, He will allow her own 
hands to shape not only a strong, true, earnest womanhood for 
herself, but the weapons which shall deliver the innocent, and 
bring the guilty to justice.” 

And Olive felt comforted, and her hope took new wings. 


CHAPTER XXX 

MR. PERCY SHAKES HIMSELF. 

It was noontide at Oakley, and a December sun was shining 
coldly in at the window of Mrs. Cora Arthur’s dressing-room. 
Within that cozy room, however, all was warmth and bright- 
ness. A cheerful fire was blazing and crackling in the grate. 
Sitting before the fire, wrapped in a becoming dressing-gown of 
white cashmere, was Cera herself, looking a trifle annoyed, but 


304 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


remarkably well withal. Wonderfully well, considering how 
very ill she had been. 

Lounging near her, his feet lazily outstretched toward the fire, 
was Lucian Davlin. 

a What did you write to Percy ?” lie inquired, consulting his 
watch. 

“ Just what you told me ; that I had something of importance 
to communicate, and desired him to call to-day at two,” replied 
Cora. 

“But — aren’t you looking a little too well for a lady who has 
been so desperately ill? It won’t do to arouse his suspicions, you 
know.” 

Cora crossed to her dressing-case, went carefully over her face 
with a puff-ball, and did some very artistic tracing in India ink 
under and over each eye. Then she turned toward him triumph- 
antly. “ There !” she exclaimed, “ now I shall draw the curtains,” 
suiting the action to the word, “and then, when I lie on this 
couch, my face will be entirely in the shadow, while from the 
further window there will come enough light to enable him to 
recognize you.” 

At this moment a rap was heard at the door. Cora threw 
herself upon the invalid’s couch, and lay back among the pillows. 
When she had settled herself to her satisfaction, Mr. Davlin 
opened the door, admitting Celine Leroque. 

“Monsieur Percy is below, madame,” said the girl, glancing 
sharply at the form in the darkened corner. 

“Come and draw these coverings over me, Celine, and then 
go and bring him up,” replied Cora. 

Then she glanced at Lucian, who said, carelessly : “ Well, 
my dear, I will go down to the library.” 

Celine adjusted the wraps apd pillows and then wept out, 


305 


MR. PERCY SHAKES HIMSELF. 


closely followed by Lucian. She was not aware that Mr. Percy 
was expected, the message having been sent by Henry. And 
she was not a little anxious to know the nature of the interview 
that was about to be held. 

Mr. Percy, conducted to Cora’s door by Celine, entered the 
room with his usual lazy grace, and approached the recumbent 
figure in the darkened corner, saying, in a tone of hypocritical 
solicitude : 

“ Madame, I trust you are not overtaxing your strength in thus 
kindly granting me an interview.” 

He knew so well how to assume the manner best calculated 
to throw her off her guard and into a rage. 

But Cora, understanding his tactics, and her own failing, 
was prepared for him. In tones as smooth as his own she 
answered : 

“You are very good, and I find my strength returning quite 
rapidly. In fact,” and here a double meaning was apparent, as 
she intended it should be, “ I think I shall soon be stronger 
than before my illness.” 

There was silence for a moment. Evidently Mr. Percy was 
not inclined to help her to put into words whatever she had in 
her mind. 

“I sent for you,” she continued, “because I have something 
to say before you meet with a person who, as you are likely to 
remain one of this pleasant family, you must of necessity, and 
for policy’s sake, meet with the outward forms of politeness.” 
Here she paused as if from exhaustion, and he, lifting his fine 
eyebrows slightly, kept silence still. 

Cora, beginning to find her part irksome, hurried to its con- 
clusion. “You have heard, no doubt, of the presence of my 
brother in this house. I sent for you that you might meet him, 

19 - 


306 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


and I desired my maid to show you to this room first, that I 
might venture a word of warning and advice. My brother 
is not the stranger that you evidently imagine him. Beyond the 
fact that you and I were once married, that I of my own will 
forsook you, and the reason, or part of the reason for so doing, 
he knows little of our affairs. For my sake he will make no 
use of that knowledge. But I think it best that you understand 
each other. Will you please ring that bell?” 

He obeyed her, looking much mystified and somewhat ap- 
prehensive. “ Celine appeared promptly, and disappeared again 
in answer to Cora’s command : 

“ Show my brother here, Celine.” 

When the door opened, he turned slowly and met the cool 
gaze of — Lucian Davlin ! 

That personage approached the invalid, saying : “You sent 
for me to introduce me to this gentleman, I suppose, Cora?” 

Mr. Percy arose slowly, and the two confronted each other, 
while Cora nodded her head, as if unable to answer his words. 

As Percy advanced the light from the one window that had 
been left unshrouded fell full upon the two men, who gazed upon 
each other with the utmost sangfroid. Two handsomer scoun- 
drels never stood at bay. And while the dark face expressed 
haughty insolence, the blonde features looked as if, after all, the 
occasion called for nothing more fatiguing than a stare of in- 
dolent surprise. 

Cora’s voice broke the silence: “Mr. Davlin is my brother, 
Mr. Percy. Please stop staring at each other, gentlemen, and 
come to some sort of an understanding.” 

“Really, this is a most agreeable surprise,” drawled Percy, 
looking from one to the other with perfect coolness. 

“And quite dramatic in effect,” sneered Davlin, flinging him- 


\ 



“ Mr. Percy arose slowly, and the two confronted eachother.’ — page 306. 

307 



• p 




308 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


self into a chair. “ Sit down, Percy ; one may as well be comfort- 
able. How’s the fair spinster to-day?” 

Percy waved away the question, and resumed his seat and his 
languid attitude, saying : “ Upon my word this is quite dramatic.” 

Davlin laughed, airily. “ Even so. I hope the fact that this 
lady is my sister will explain some things to you more satisfac- 
torily than they have hitherto been explained. And if so, we 
had better let bygones drop.” 

Percy turned his eyes away from the speaker, and let them 
rest upon the face of Cora. Again ignoringtheremark addressed 
to him, he said, slowly: “I don’t see any very strong family 
resemblance.” 

“ I don’t suppose you ever will,” retorted Davlin, coolly. 

“And I don’t precisely see the object of this interview,” Percy 
continued. 

Davlin made a gesture of impatience, and said, sharply: 
“Hang it all, man, the object is soon got atf It’s a simple 
question and answer.” 

Percy brushed an imaginary particle of dust off his sleeve 
with the greatest care, and then lifted his eyes and said, in- 
terrogatively : “ W ell ?” 

“Will you have war or peace?” 

“That depends.” 

“Upon what?” 

“The terms.” 

“Well!” 

“Well?” 

“What do you want?” 

Percy examined his finger nails, attentively, as if looking 
for his next idea there. “To be let alone,” he said, at last. 

Davlin laughed. “And to let alone?” 

“Of course.” ' 


MR. PERCY SHAKES HIMSELF. 


309 


“ Then we won’t waste words. Rely upon us to help, rather 
than hinder you. There’s no use bringing up old scores. If 
you vote for an alliance of forces, very good.” 

Percy nodded, and then rising, said : “ Well, if that is all, I 
will take my leave. No doubt quiet is best for Mrs. Arthur,” 
bowing ironically. “ By-the-by,” meaningly, “when you find 
yourself in the village, Davlin, it might not be amiss to show 
yourself at the inn.” 

“Quite right,” said Davlin, gravely. “Possibly I may look 
in upon you to-morrow.” 

Mr. Percy nodded; made a graceful gesture of adieu to Cora, 
who murmured inaudiblv in reply; and the two men quitted 
•her presence. 

In a few moments Davlin returned to Cora, smiling and 
serene. “I told you we could easily manage him,” he said. 
“He won’t trouble himself t ) go to war, save in his own de- 
fence. You did the invalid beautifully, Co., and I feel quite 
satisfied with the present state of things.” 

But Mr. Percy had not looked and listened for nothing. He 
went straight to his room, and shutting himself in, began to 
think diligently. Finally he summed up his case on his 
fingers as follows : 

“First, are they brother and sister? I don’t believe it. 
Second, taking it for granted they are not, what is their game? 
If the old man dies, and if I can ferret out the mystery, 
for I believe there is one, who Jcnov's but that two fortunes may 
come into my hands f I must watch them, and to do that, Ellen 
must go back to Oakley, and they must invite me to be their 
guest !” 

Mr. Percy arose and shook himself, mentally and physically. 


310 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Bat alas for Celine ! She had heard almost every word of the 
interview, through the keyhole of a door leading into an adjoin- 
ing room, and it had told her nothing, save that there was to be 
peace between the two men, and that there had been, perhaps, 
war. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

A SILKEN BELT. 

Mr. Percy and Miss Arthur were openly engaged now, and 
were anxiously waiting for the recovery of the sick at Oakley 
in order to celebrate their marriage. 

The spinster was in a frame of mind ^o grant almost any 
favor to her lover to-night. And when at last she, herself, led 
up to the subject she wished to broach, he foresaw an easy 
victory. 

“Oh, Edward,” she sighed, with a very dramatic shudder, 
“you cannot think how I dread to-morrow’s ordeal, the visit to 
my brother! Suppose poor John were to rave at me, — me, his 
own sister!” 

He took the hand that was quite as large as his own, and 
caressed it reassuringly. “I don’t think there is the slightest 
danger, Ellen, dear, but I am convinced I must attend you to- 
morrow. I shall feel better to be with you.” 

“Oh, Edward!” sighed the maiden, enraptured at this decla- 
ration of tenderness, “you are so careful of me.” 

He smiled and still caressed her hand, saying: “Listen, dar- 
ling,” drawing her nearer to him, “I don’t like to have you 
here; it is not a fit place for you. And I find that remarks are 


A SILKEN BELT. 


311 


being made. This I cannot endure. Besides, I do not think it 
right for you or me to leave your brother so entirely at the 
mercy of — Mrs. Arthur. Promise me that you will consult a 
physician to-morrow, and as soon as the danger of contagion is 
past, you will go back.” 

“But I can’t bear to leave you, Edward.” 

“And you shall not. I will come to Oakley too.” 

“You? Oh, how nice ! Have they asked you to come?” 

“ I saw Mrs. Arthur’s brother to-day, and we settled that.” 

“Oh, did you? Then you are good friends again?” 

He turned upon her a look of inquiry. “Again?” 

“Yes; Cora told me not to speak of Mr. Davlin to you, as 
you were not good friends, and it might make you less free to 
come to the house.” 

Mr. Percy’s eyebrows went up perceptibly. “Mrs. Arthur 
is very thoughtful; but she was mistaken ; our little misunder- 
standing has not made us serious enemies.” 

“Oh, how nice!” rapturously. 

“ Very nice,” dryly. “Now you will be a good girl and go 
back soon?” 

“I don’t think Cora will be over anxious to have me come 
back,” she said, looking like a meditative cat-bird. “I know 
she kept that Celine in the house to spite me.” 

“ I can readily understand how she might be jealous of you, 
dear. Perhaps she fears your influence over your brother. At 
any rate, your duty lies there. When it is time to do so, 
don’t consult her or anyone; take possession of your former 
apartments, and stand by your brother in his hour of need.” 

Miss Arthur promised to comply with her lover’s request, and 
he managed at last to escape from her, and seek the repose which 
he preferred to such society. 


312 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


All this time John Arthur was a prisoner in the west wing. 
He was attended by the doctor sometimes, by Celine occasion- 
ally, and by Henry almost constantly since the arrival of that 
sable individual. 

Lucian Davlin, having no taste for the work, kept aloof as 
much as possible. Himself and Dr. Le Guise, as he called 
his confederate, had labored hard and, with the assistance of 
old Hagar, had put the rooms in proper condition for the occu- 
pancy of a lunatic. And a lunatic John Arthur certainly was. 
Once before his removal, and once since, he had been seized 
with a paroxysm of undeniable insanity. 

John Arthur had been, and still was, the dupe of his supposed 
brother-in-law and Dr. Le Guise. We have all heard of 
natures that can be frightened into sickness, almost into dying, 
of an imaginary disease. John Arthur’s was one of these. 
And, with a little aid from Dr. Le Guise, he had been really 
quite ill. 

Henry had been constituted his keeper, a position which he 
filled with reluctance, and there was a fair prospect that sooner 
or later he would break into open mutiny. Although he could 
not guess at the nature of the game his master was playing, yet 
he felt assured that it was something desperate, if not danger- 
ous.” 

He had promised “his young lady,” as he called Madeline, to 
remain in Mr. Da vl in’s service until she bade him withdraw, 
and but for this would hardly have submitted to remain John 
Arthur’s keeper on any terms. Henry had a certain pride of 
his own, and that pride was in revolt against this new servitude. 

He had not met Cora here, and had no idea that she was an 
inmate of the house. 

Pr ? pe Guise had relieved Henry on the morning of tjie day 


A SILKEN BELT. 


313 


that Miss Arthur ventured, for the first time since her flight, 
within the walls of Oakley manor, escorted by Mr. Percy. He 
had detected some signs of fever, although Mr. Arthur declared 
himself feeling better, and administered a powder to check it. 

Soon the patient began to show signs of increasing restlessness, 
and by the time Henry appeared to announce that Miss Arthur 
desired an interview with Dr. Le Guise, he began to wrangle 
with his physician and gave expression to various vagaries. 

Consigning his charge to Henry, with the remark that he 
“must watch him close, and not let him get hold of anything,” 
Dr. Le Guise hurried down to the drawing-room. 

The doctor listened to Miss Arthur attentively, while she 
made known her desire to return to the manor if the danger of 
contagion was at an end. Then he replied, hurriedly: 

“Quite right; quite admirable. But if you will take my 
advice, I should say, don’t come just yet. There will be no 
danger to you, in going to your unfortunate brother for just a 
few moments — a very few — and then going straight out of the 
house into a purer atmosphere. But to remain here now, to 
breathe this air just yet — my dear lady, I could not encourage 
that; the danger would be too great.” 

And then he led the way straight in to John Arthur’s pres- 
ence, explaining as they went that the cause of his removal 
from his own rooms was to escape the fever impregnations still 
clinging there. 

John Arthur was sitting in the middle of his bed, beating 
his pillows wildly, and imploring Henry, between shrieks of 
laughter, to come and kiss him,*evidently mistaking him for 
some blooming damsel. As the damsel declined to come, the 
lunatic became furious, and hurled the pillows, and afterwards 
his night-cap, at him, with blazing eyes and cat-like agility. 


.314 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


This done, he began to rock himself to and fro, and shout out 
the words of some old song to an improvised tune that was all 
on one note. 

Dr. Le Guise turned to Mr. Percy, whispering: “ You see; 
that’s the way he goes on, only worse at times.” 

Mr. Percy turned away. The fair spinster who had been 
clinging to him in a paroxysm of terror, attempted to faint, but 
remembering her complexion thought better of it and contented 
herself with being half led, half carried out, in a “ walking 
swoon.” And both she and Mr. Percy felt there was no longer 
room to doubt the insanity of her brother. 

Having seen them depart, Dr. Le Guise sought out Mr. 
Davlin. Finding him in Cora’s room, he entered and informed 
the pair of the desire Miss Arthur had manifested to come back 
to her brother’s roof, and of his mode of putting off the evil 
day of her return. 

“ Humph!” ejaculated Davlin, “ what does it mean? I saw 
Percy in the village this morning, and he told me quite plainly 
that he desired an invitation to quarter himself upon us.” 

“And what did you say?” gasped Cora. 

“Told him to come, of course, as soon as it was safe to do so.” 

“Well!” said Cora, dryly, “I don’t think it will be very safe 
for either of them to come just at present.” 

“Oh, well,” said the doctor, cheerfully, “we have got seven 
long days to settle about that. And if they imsist upon coming, 
and then catch the fever , they rnusn’t blame me.” 

And Dr. Le Guise looked as if he had perpetrated a good 
joke. 

John Arthur’s insanity was as short-lived as it was violent. 
He lay for the rest of the day quiet and half stupefied. When 
night came on, he sank into a heavy slumber. 


A .SILKEN BELT. 


315 


At twelve o’clock that night, all was quiet in and about the 
manor. 

Cora Arthur was sleeping soundly, dreamlessly, as such women 
do sleep. In the room adjoining hers, Celine Leroque sat, 
broad awake and listening intently. At last, satisfied that her 
mistress was sleeping, Celine arose and stole softly into the room 
where she lay. 

Softly, softly, she approached the couch, passing through a 
river of moonlight that poured in at the broad windows. Then 
she drew from a pocket, something wrapped in a handkerchief. 

Noiselessly, swiftly, she moved, and then the handkerchief, 
shaken free from the something within, was laid upon the face 
of the sleeper, while the odor of chloroform filled the room. 

Nimbly her fingers moved, pulling away the coverings, and 
then the clothing, from the unconscious body. It is done in a 
moment. With a smothered exclamation of triumph, she draws 
away a silken belt , and removing the handkerchief, glides noise- 
lessly from the room. 

She steals on to her own room in the west wing. Here she 
locks the door and, striking a light, hurriedly rips the silken 
band with a tiny penknife, and draws from thence two papers. 

One glance suffices. Replacing the papers, she binds the belt 
about her own body, and then envelopes herself in a huge water- 
proof, with swift, nervous fingers. 

And now, for the second time, this girl is fleeing away from 
Oakley. Out into the night that is illuminated now by a faint, 
faint moon ; through the bare, leafless, chilly woods, and down 
the path that crosses the railway track not far from the little 
station. Once more she follows the iron rails; once more she 
lingers in the shadows, until the train thunders up; the night 
train for New York, Then she springs on board. 


316 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


For the second time, Madeline Payne is fleeing away from 
Oakley and all that it contains ; fleeing cityward to begin, \wth 
the morrow, a new task, and a new chapter in her existence. 

But no lover is beside her now r ; for that love is dead in her 
heart. And no Clarence breathes in her ear a warning, for now 
it is not needed. Since that first J une flitting, she has learned 
the world and its wisdom, good and evil. 

And the cloud that Hagar saw on that June night, hangs dark 
above the house of Oakley. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

CROSS PURPOSES. 

An irate pair were seated at breakfast the morning after 
Celine’s flitting. And while they ate little, they talked much 
and earnestly, sometimes angrily. They had arrived at the con- 
clusion, which, although erroneous, had been foreseen by the 
astute Celine, namely: That the robbery had been committed at 
the instigation of Mr. Percy, and that Celine had been bought 
over and used by him as a tool. 

It was evident that something must be done, and that quickly. 

A\ hile these papers were in the hands of Percy, as undoubtedly 
they were at that moment, it were best to keep that gentleman 
as much as possible under their own eye. 

Yesterday, it had seemed desirable that Miss Arthur and her 
fiance should be kept out of the house of Oakley. To-day, they 
agreed that the quicker the pair took up their abode beneath its 
hospitable roof, the sooner they, Mr. Davlin and his accomplice, 



'With a smothered exclamation of triumph she draws away a silken 
belt!" — page 315. 



318 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


would breathe freely. If they could get the two in the same 
house with themselves, they might yet outwit Mr. Percy — with 
the aid of their friend and ally, the sham doctor, if in no other 
way. Meantime, they would not make the robbery known; or 
rather, they would inform the servants and all others whom it 
seemed desirable to enlighten, that the girl, Celine, had possessed 
herself of certain jewels and of Mrs. Arthur’s purse, and fled 
with her spoils. 

Accordingly, Hagar was summoned and told of the base in- 
gratitude of the French maid. Whereupon she was much as- 
tonished, and ventilated her opinions of French folk in general, 
and that one in particular. Through Hagar, the other servants, 
now few in number, were informed of the defalcation, and the 
extent of damage done by Miss Celine Leroque. Then the 
kitchen cabinet held a session forthwith, and settled the fate of 
their departed contemporary, being ably assisted by Hagar. 

The Professor was made no wiser than were the rest of the 
tools who served the plotters. But he was somewhat surprised 
upon being desired, by Mr. Davlin, to equip himself for a walk, 
the object of which was to allay the alarm of Miss Arthur and 
her friend, and invite them to the manor forthwith. Said invi- 
tations were to be followed up with the doctor’s assurance that, 
having made a "more minute examination, he was fully satisfied 
that there was no fear of contagion from Mrs. Arthur, and but 
little from her husband; none, in fact, unless they desired to be 
much in his room. 

The worthy pair set out for the village, and were so fortunate 
as to meet Mr. Percy on the very threshold of the inn. Having 
exchanged greetings and cigars, and having discussed the weather 
and various other interesting topics, the gentlemen sent up their 
compliments to Miss Arthur. 


CROSS PURPOSES. 


319 


They were soon admitted into the presence of that lady, where 
more skirmishing was done, during which Dr. Le Guise un- 
burdened himself, as per. programme, and then Mr. Davlin 
fired his first shot. 

“By-the-by, Miss Arthur, you may congratulate yourself that 
you did not retain that impostor of a French maid longer in your 
service.” 

Lucian had purposely placed himself near the spinster, and 
where he could observe the face of Percy without seeming to do 
so. But that gentleman was glancing lazily out at the window, 
and his face was as expressionless as putty. Lucian uttered a 
mental, “ Confound his sang froid,” as he continued: 

“She has robbed my sister of jewels and money to the tune 
of a couple of thousand, and has cut and run.” 

“Goodness gracious, Mr. Davlin!” shrieked the spinster. 

But Percy only turned his head lazily, and elevated his eye- 
brows in mute comment. 

“Yes,” laughing lightly, “I suppose the hussy fancied that 
she had made a heavier haul still. My sister had about her 
person some papers, or rather duplicates of papers that are 
deposited in a safer place. The jade took these also, think- 
ing, no ddhbt, that they were of value or, perhaps, without 
examining them to see that they were worse than worthless to 
her.” 

“Oh, Mr. Davlin, what an artful creature! T was sure she 
was not quite to be trusted. But who would have supposed 
that she would dare — ” gushed Miss Arthur. 

“Oh, she is no doubt a professional ; belongs to some city 
( swell mob/ begging your pardon. But I shall run up to the 
city to-night, I think, and try and see if the detectives can’t 
unearth her.” 


320 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Still no sign from Percy; not so much as the quiver of an eyelid. 

So Mr. Davlin came straight to the issue, thinking that 
surely Mr. Percy would betray something here; perhaps would 
refuse to come to Oakley. In such case, Lucian felt that he 
should be tempted to spring upon and throttle him from sheer 
desperation. 

But again he was mistaken, for no sooner was his invitation 
extended, than Mr. Percy accepted it with evident gratification, 
saying, in his easy drawl : ‘‘Shall be delighted to change my 
quarters. Anything must be an improvement upon this. And 
as your — all, Dr. Le Guise — says there is positively no danger, 
Miss Arthur will of course be rejoiced to return to her proper 
place.” 

And of course Miss Arthur assented. 

Before leaving, Mr. Davlin arranged that the carriage should 
come for Miss Arthur the next day, and that a porter should 
immediately transfer their luggage to Oakley. 

“My faith,” mused he, as he strode back to tell Cora of his 
mission ; “but he carries it with a high hand. I didn’t think 
there was so much real devil in him. lie is playing a fine 
game, but I don’t think he can dream that we suspect him. If 
we can deceive him in this, and get him info the house, we will 
be able to accomplish his downfall, I think.” 

Meantime, Edward Percy was viewing the matter from his 
own stand-point. 

“ Luck is running into my hand,” he assured himself. 
“They are evidently a little bit afraid of me; there’s nothing 
more awe-inspiring than a cool front, and I certainly carry that. 
Once at Oakley, it will be strange if I don’t fathom their little 
mystery. It they are doing mischief there, I won’t be behind 
In claiming the lion’s share of the spoils.” 


CROSS PURPOSES. 


321 


According to arrangement, Miss Arthur and her lover were 
transferred to Oakley on the following day, and there the game 
of cross purposes went on. 

Cora received Miss Arthur with much cordiality, averring 
that she had missed the society of “ dear Ellen,” more than she 
could tell, and declaring that now she should begin to get well 
in earnest. 

Messrs. Davlin and Percy affected much friendliness, and 
watched each other furtively, day and night. 

Dr. Le Guise reported an unfavorable change in his in- 
sane patient and forbade them, one and all, to enter his room. 

Cora and Davlin protested against the doctor’s cruel order, 
but in vain. Mr. Percy made no objections, but kept his eyes 
open. One evening, the second of his stay at the manor, he saw, 
while coming up the stairs with slippered feet, the form of Mr. 
Davlin as it disappeared around the angle leading to the west 
wing. Then Mr. Percy stole on until he stood at the door of the 
wing. Satisfying himself that Davlin was actually within the 
forbidden room, he waited for nothing further, but glided quietly 
back to his own door, looking as imperturbable as ever and saying 
to himself: 

“ There is a mystery; and we, rather 7, am not to see Mr. 
Arthur at present. Well, I don’t want to see him; but I hold 
the clue to your little game, my fair second wife.” 

Lucian Davlin went to the city, but he did not set a detec- 
tive on the track of Celine Leroque. He chose his man, one 
who had served him before, and set him about something quite 
different. Then he returned, feeling quite satisfied and confi- 
dent of success. 


21 


322 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

A SLIGHT COMPLICATION. 

And what of Celine, or Madeline, as we may call her once 
more? 

She had said, when writing to Olive, that her stay in the city 
must be very brief. But even her strong will could not keep 
off the light attack of fever that was the result of fatigue and ex- 
posure to night breezes. And the morning following her arri- 
val at the villa, found her unable to rise from her bed. 

Dr. Vaughan was summoned in haste, and his verdict anxiously 
waited for. “It was a slight fever attack,” he said, “but the 
wearied-out body must not be hurried. It must rest.” 

And he forbade Madeline to leave her room for a week at least, 
unless she wished to bring upon herself a return of her summer’s 
illness. 

Much to his surprise and gratification, Madeline did not rebel, 
but replied, philosophically : “I can’t afford to take any risks 
now; I will be good. But you must watch my interests.” 

During the first day of her “imprisonment,” as she laughingly 
called it, Clarence and Olive were put in possession of all the 
facts that had not already been communicated by letter. 

Upon one thing they were all agreed, namely, that it would 
be wise for Clarence to make another journey to Bellair. 

“They won’t be able to accomplish much during the week 
that I must remain inactive,” said Madeline. “ But it will be 
safest to know just what they are about. Besides, I have reasons 


A .SLIGHT COM PLIC AT ION . 


323 


for thinking that Henry is growing dissatisfied, and it is to our 
interest to keep him where he is for the present. Had a suitable 
opportunity offered, I should have made him aware of my 
identity. But as it did not present itself, I left it with Hagar 
to inform him that he was serving me by remaining.” 

Hr. Vaughan prepared to visit Bellair on the second day after 
. the arrival of Madeline. But almost at the moment of starting 
there came a summons from one of his patients, who was taken 
suddenly worse. Thinking to take a later train he hastened to 
the sick man ; but the hour for the last train arrived and passed, 
and still he stood at the bedside, battling with death. So it 
transpired that nearly three days had elapsed since the flitting 
of Celine Leroque, when Hr. Vaughan entered the train that 
should deposit him at dusk in the village of Bellair. 

It had been prearranged by Madeline and Hagar that, in case 
of any event Avhich should delay the return of the former on the 
day appointed, the latter was to visit the postoffice and look for 
tidings through that medium. Madeline had been due at Oakley 
the day before, and so, of course, to-day Hagar would be in at- 
tendance at the office. 

Hr. Vaughan had written, at the moment of quitting his office 
to visit his patient, a hasty supplement to Madeline’s letter, stat- 
ing that he was delayed one train, but not to give him up if he 
did not appear that evening. He would certainly come on the 
next day’s train. 

Clarence was somewhat fatigued as he entered the railway 
carriage, having spent the entire previous night at the bedside 
of his patient. He went forward to the smoking car, thinking 
to refresh himself with a weed. 

Four men were engrossed in a game of cards not far from 
him. As they became more deeply interested, and their voices 


324 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


more distinct above the roar of the cars, something in the tones 
'"f one of the men caught his ear, reminding him of some voice 
he had sometime heard or known. The speaker sat with his 
back to the young man, and nothing of his countenance visible 
save the tips of two huge ears. These, too, had a familiar look. 

Clarence arose and sauntered to the end of the car, in order to 
get a view of the face that, he felt assured, was not unknown to 
him. 

The man was absorbed in his game and never once glanced 
up. Our hero having taken a good look at the not very pre- 
possessing face, returned to his seat. He had recognized the 
man. It was Jarvis, the detective who had been recently em- 
ployed by him to shadow Lucian Davlin. 

It was not a remarkable thing that Jarvis should leave the 
city on the same train with himself, but the circumstance, never- 
theless, set Clarence thinking. Could it be possible that the 
man had found something to arouse his suspicions, and was he 
following up the clue on his own account? 

Clarence felt an unaccountable desire to know where the de- 
tective was going. If he were going to Bellair, then he must be 
bought over. If he were going to Bellair, he, Clarence, must 
know it before the village was reached. It was hardly probable 
that the man’s destination was identical with his own, but he 
had now determined to run no risks. 

Throwing back his overcoat, and setting his hat a trifle on 
one side, Clarence sauntered up to the group of card players, as- 
suming an appearance of interest in the game. As he paused < 
beside them, Jarvis swept away the last trick of a closely-con- 
tested game, and then said, consulting his watch the while: 

“ There’s for you! I’ve got just three-quarters of an hour to 
clean you out in, so come on,” 



Jarvis swept away the last trick of a closely-contested game.” — page 824 

325 




326 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Three-quarters of an hour! The exact time it would take to 
run to Bellair. 

Clarence shifted his position so as to put himself behind the 
two men seated opposite Jarvis. As he did so, the expert glanced 
up, encountering the eye of Dr. Vaughan. 

“How are you?” said that young man, nonchalantly. 

Jarvis shot him a keen glance of intelligence, and replied, in 
the same off-hand tone: “High, you bet!” 

Jarvis was attired like a well-to-do farmer; and Clarence 
guessed, at a glance, that his three companions were strangers, 
two of them being commercial tourists, without a doubt, and the 
third, a ruddy-looking old gent, who might have been anything 
harmless. Taking his cue from the “make up” of the detec- 
tive, Clarence, after giving him an expressive glance, said, easily, 
“Sold your stock?” 

Jarvis cocked up one eye as he replied, while shuffling the 
cards : “ Every horn !” 

“Want to buy?” 

Jarvis looked him straight in the eye. “Want to sell?” 

“Yes, rather.” 

Jarvis dealt round with great precision, and then said : “All 
right, Cap. Ell talk with you when I get through this game.” 

Clarence nodded, and presently sauntered away. As soon as 
his back was turned, Jarvis jerked his thumb toward him, say- 
ing, confidentially : 

“Young fellow; swell farmer; big stock -raiser.” And then 
he plunged into the game with much enthusiasm. 

Clarence resumed his seat and, for a few moments, thought 
very earnestly. The words of the detective had confirmed his 
suspicion. He now felt assured that Jarvis was bound for 
Bellair, and if so he was, no doubt, in the employ of Lucian 


A SLIGHT COMPLICATION. 


327 


Davlin, for some unknown purpose. What that purpose was, 
he must know at any cost. 

By the time his plans were fairly matured, he observed that 
the group of card-players was breaking up. In another moment, 
Jarvis lounged lazily along and threw himself down upon the 
seat beside him. 

In little more than half an hour they would be due in Bellair, 
and what Clarence desired to say must be said quickly. Taking 
out his cigar-case, he offered the man a weed, which was accepted 
with alacrity, and while it was being lighted, Clarence said: 
“ Are you especially busy now?” 

“N-o; only so-so.” 

“ Learned anything more in regard to my man?” 

“ Davlin?” interrogatively. 

“Yes.” 

“No,” puffing contentedly; “we don’t move in a case after 
it’s paid off.” 

“I see,” smiling; and then, making his first real venture: 
“Could you do some work for me to-morrow?” 

Jarvis looked keenly at him, and Clarence hastened to say, 
with perfect, apparent, candor: 

“ The fact is I have been put back by a patient, and my own 
personal affairs have been neglected. So I have been unable to 
look you up at the office, in order to put a little matter into 
your hands. To-day I am called away unexpectedly.” Then, 
as if struck by a sudden thought, “How long will you be out of 
town?” 

Jarvis shook his head. “Don’t know.” 

“By Jove, what a pity. I’d rather have you than any other 
man, and I won’t stand about money ; but my work won’t, keep 
long.” 


328 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


The doctor’s flattery and the detective’s avarice combined, had 
the desired effect. Jarvis unbent, and became more communica- 
tive. “Fact is,” he said, squaring about, “I don’t know my lay 
just yet.” 

“No?” inquiringly: “Going far out?” 

“No.” 

“Well,” as if about to drop the conversation, “I’m sorry you 
can’t do the job. It’s big pay and success sure. The truth is,” 
lowering his voice confidentially, “ there are two parties beside 
myself interested, and both have plenty of money. It’s a snug 
sum to the man who does our work.” 

The detective looked grave, and then became confidential in 
his turn. 

“The fact is,” — he was fond of using “ facts” when it was 
possible to lug one in — “ I am sent out to a small town as a 
sub.” 

“A sub.?” 

“Yes; substitute. You see, one of our men was detailed to 
do some work for a chap who came to the Agency from this 
little town. It was a case of record hunting. Well, the man 
went out last night all O. K. ; he was a little on the sport when 
off duty, but a tip-top chap when at work. Well, lie got into a 
gambling brawl, and this morning they brought him in, done 
up.” 

“Done up?” 

“Yes; killed, you know.” 

“Oh!” 

“And so, you see, I am ordered down here to take the in- 
structions of my gentleman, in the place of my pard, who won’t 
receive any more orders here below.” 

“Then you don’t yet know precisely what is required of you?” 


A SLIGHT COMPLICATION. 


329 


“No; I was packed off at half an hour’s notice, and don’t 
even know the name of my employer. I have my instructions 
and his address here,” tapping his breast pocket. “ I believe 
the party lives out of town, at some manor or other.” 

Clarence was thinking very fast. There was but one 
“ Manor” in or near Bellair. He looked at his time-card ; 
there was but one town between them and that village. Hold- 
ing the card' in his hand he said : 

“Well, I will try and tell you what I want done; that is, if 
there is time — how soon do you leave the train?” 

Jarvis now scented a fat job, and thinking only of getting 
the particulars of that replied, rather incautiously, as he con- 
sulted the time-card in the hand of Clarence. 

“By goshen! it’s only two stations off — Bellair.” 

“Oh! Bellair, eh?” * 

Jarvis nodded ruefully, and then asked: “Where do you 
land?” 

Clarence smiled a little as he replied: “Wait until you hear 
my business, then you will know where I am going.” 

“ All right f fire away.” 

And the expert settled himself into a listening attitude. 
“The truth is, Jarvis, I want you back on the old case.” 

“What, the gambler’s?” 

“Yes, Davlin; he is about at the end of his rope, and will, 
in a short time, be trying to quit the country. Did you ever 
see the woman who is his partner in iniquity? You heard con- 
siderable of her while looking up this business.” 

“ Heard of her ? I shou Id think so. Never saw her, though.” 

“No matter; you may see her soon. You see, they are now 
at work upon a fine piece of rascality. She has actually mar- 
ried, an old man, supposing him to be wealthy, and Davlin is 


330 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


figuring as her brother. In reality, the old man, their victim, 
holds only a life interest in the property. So you see, even if 
they succeed with the thing in hand, they won’t make much. 
And the person who will inherit, after the old gentleman 
passes away, is aware of their real character and is ready to 
spring upon them at the proper moment.” 

Jarvis gave a long, low whistle. 

“Now, then, there is another crime — one that occurred some 
years ago, with which this man and woman are connected, and 
they are allowed to go free for a little time in order to complete 
the evidence in this second case.” 

Jarvis nodded sagely. 

“So you see there will be double fees, and large ones. First, 
from the heir, and next, from the parties interested in the last 
case. The two are friends, in fact, and work together. Of 
course, I should expect to act. according to the rules of your 
office, and I know that you are paid by your manager, but — if 
you can put me in possession of all the movements of Lucian 
Davlin for the next week, in addition to the salary paid you by ~ 
your head officials, I will promise you one thousand dollars. 
If, later, you can supply the missing evidence, it shall be five 
thousand.” 

Jarvis looked hastily behind him. “Is he in this train?” 

“No.” 

“Then were the - dev — ” 

“Wait,” interrupted Clarence. “I’ll tell you where he is. 
But first you may attend to the business on which you came to 
Bellair. You may obey the instructions you shall receive to the 
letter. But I must know what it is you are bidden to do.” 

Jarvis knitted his brows and finally said, as if giving up a 
knotty problem, “Make things plainer; I am befogged.’’ 


A SLIGHT COMPLICATION. 


831 


“Plainly, then,” said Clarence, “ you are going to Bellair; 
and,” drawing out li is pocket-book, “ you are not retained as yet 
for this work?” 

“ No.” 

“ Well,” placing a one hundred dollar bill in his hand, “ I 
retain you for my case, here and now, and you may accept the 
other fee if you like.” 

“How?” 

“ Look at the address of your new client.” 

Jarvis took from his pocket a number of cards, shuffled them 
off deftly and, selecting the right one at last, read slowly the 
name of his unseen employer. Then he glanced quickly up at 
Clarence, re-read his card, and leaning back upon the cushion, 
shook with silent laughter. 

“Well, if you ain’t the rummest one yet! And I’m your 
man ! Why, bless my soul, you are a lawyer and detective all 
in one!” 

Clarence smiled, but he knew this was the highest compli- 
ment that Jarvis was capable of. “Then I may depend upon 
you?” he asked. 

“You bet!” 

They were nearing the village of Bellair now, and Clarence, 
who did not intend to let Jarvis know too much concerning his 
movements, gave him some hasty instructions, and ended by 
asking: “When do you go back to the city to report?” 

“By the next train. Davlin is expecting me, and I shall 
take his orders and then go back. 

“Very well; I’ll see you in town to-morrow. Now, as it 
won’t do to risk the chance of being seen together, I will go into 
the other car.” And Clarence sauntered away. 


332 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

“ THOU SHALT NOT SERVE TWO MASTERS” SET AT NAUGHT. 

Meanwhile, as they steamed into the village, which was the 
destination of both, Mr. Jarvis soliloquized, as he caressed his 
wallet pocket : 

“I know who will butter my bread. Davlin is as slippery as 
an eel, and will end in trouble. Hr. Vaughan is a man of his 
word, and I don’t need his bond. I’m sure of one thousand, 
if not of five. And I never was over fond of this gentleman 
gambler.” 

It may be remarked that Davlin was a man pretty well known 
by the police and detectives. A gambler riding the top wave of 
success might have found more favor in the eyes of Jarvis. But 
he knew, because of his previous investigations, that Davlin was 
not “ flush” at that time. 

Clarence kept carefully out of sight when the train reached 
the village. Springing lightly to the ground, on the opposite 
side from the platform, he walked swiftly away, unnoticed in 
the darkness. Once more he crossed the field and knocked at 
the door of Hagar’s cottage, and this time it was Hagar who ad- 
mitted him. 

Eagerly he listened, while the old woman told him how very 
fast Cora was recovering now; how they had got Miss Arthur 
and Percy back into the house; and how very careful both Cora 
and Lucian were to treat them politely. Madeline had not con- 
fided to Hagar the story of Olive, and the old woman knew no 
more of Edward Percy than that he was, as she termed it, “a 
handsome hypocrite.” 


SERVING TWO MASTERS. 


33S 


^*arence questioned Hagar closely. Had they made any at- 
tempt to find the one who took the papers? 

“No,” Hagar replied; “ they had said that Celine Leroque 
had stolen money and jewels, but they had not said one word 
about any papers.” 

Last of all, she told him how, fearing that Henry was becom- 
ing too restive, and fearing, also, the effect of too much of the 
Professor’s medicine upon the somewhat enfeebled system of the 
prisoner, she had made known to Henry the fact that he was 
working in the cause of his young lady. On learning this, and 
having it proved to his satisfaction, for he was at first inclined 
to be skeptical, he had been much delighted, and had since 
carried out the orders of Madeline as transmitted through 
Hagar. 

Their conversation lasted a full hour, and then, having learned 
all that could be learned from that source, and having delivered 
all of the messages sent by Madeline, he bade the old woman a 
kind good-night, and retraced his steps across the field and back 
to the village. 

When the nignt train halted at Bellair, Jarvis seated himself 
in the smoking-car, feeling quite self-satisfied. When the train 
moved on, he lighted a very black cigar, and began to contem- 
plate the situation. 

“Well, how do we stand now?” 

As the voice of Clarence Vaughan fell upon his ear, Jarvis 
bounded from his seat like an india rubber ball and stared wildly 
at the young man who had dropped down into the seat beside 
him as if from the ceiling. 

. “Well, you are a rum one,” said he, at last. “Might I ask 
where you came from?” 

“From the ladies’ 


334 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Oh!” with the air of having made a discovery. “So you 
ride out of the city in a smoking-car for the purpose of riding 
back in the ladies’ carriage?” 

Clarence laughed again, settled himself comfortably in his seat 
and took out his cigar case. “Not exactly/’ proceeding to light 
a weed. “I am on pretty much the same business that you are, 
to-night.” Then, taking a big puff, “I have been to Bellair, 
like yourself.” 

“ The deuce you have !” 

“Yes; how did your business prosper?” 

Jarvis eyed him sharply. “Perhaps you know already.” 

“ Perhaps I do. You have not got to look for stolen diamonds, 
have you ?” 

Jarvis laughed derisively. 

“ Or stolen money ?” pursued Clarence. 

Jarvis shrugged his shoulders. 

“Or stolen — papers?” 

Jarvis began to look foxy. 

“ Or a runaway young woman?” 

Jarvis thought furiously for a moment; then turning square upon 
his interlocutor, said, significantly : “ So there are stolen papers?” 

Clarence smiled, but said nothing. 

“ And,” pursued Jarvis, “ when one loses one’s papers, say 
deeds, or a — marriage certificate, one naturally thinks of hunting 
the records for proofs that such papers existed.” 

“And that is your work ?” 

Jarvis nodded. 

“Take you out of the city?” 

“ Only a few miles.” 

Clarence reflected for a time, and then said: “You can do 
your work, but report all discoveries to me” 


SERVING TWO MASTERS. 


335 


Jarvis assented, and they oontinued to talk of the matter in 
hand until the city was reached. Then, having made an appoint- 
ment for the coming day, and agreed to let the work of shadow- 
ing the gambler or, rather, his business, remain a “ private spec.” 
to Jarvis, they separated. 

Thoroughly wearied, Clarence sought his bachelor apartments 
and the repose he so much needed. 

Early the next day he was up, and after paying a visit to his 
patient, he turned his steps, or the steps of his horse, in the di- 
rection of the v i 1 T ! . 

He found Madeline sitting up, feeling much better, and look- 
ing altogether lovely. Drawing their chairs near together in 
front of the crackling grate fire, the three discussed the result 
of the journey to Bellair. Having first related the news im- 
parted by Hagar, Dr. Vaughan turned to Madeline and asked: 

“What is your theory, sister mine, in regard to this change 
at Oakley ? Why have they turned about and taken up Miss 
Arthur and her fiance with such sudden affection. Have you 
guessed ?” 

The girl smiled up at him as she replied: “Certainly; have 
not you?” 

“ You incorrigible little lawyer ! Yes, but give us yours first.” 

“Why,” said Madeline with a light laugh, “I suppose they 
have been suspecting the wrong party. They think that I was 
an emissary of Mr. Percy’s.” 

“Undoubtedly that is the truth,” assented Clarence. 

“And,” added Madeline, “ believing the documents in his pos- 
session, it is easy to understand that they prefer having the gen- 
tleman under the same roof with themselves.” 

“True; now, the question that interests us is, how long will 
it be before they find out their mistake?” 


336 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“I think,” said the girl, reflectively, “ that their game will be 
covert, not open, attack, from the fact that they have kept the 
loss of the papers so carefully from the servants. If this is 
true, they will move cautiously, and aim to convince the man 
that they do not suspect him.” 

Clarence nodded. 

“You see the necessity for action, do you not?” Madeline 
said, after a silence. “ I must make my next move within a 
few days.” 

“I don’t fancy that we need fear any new developments that 
will be dangerous to our cause just yet.” 

Then he told them of his meeting with the detective, and its 
results, adding: “ You see, Jarvis can withhold his reports to 
suit our convenience, and you can grow strong, feeling secure.” 

Meantime, Jarvis set about his task of record hunting. He 
was energetic and resolute as a sleuth hound on the scent ; so he 
soon made one or two discoveries. 

One day, very cleverly gotten upon as a dapper lawyer, he 
dropped in at the office of Messrs. Lord & Myers, bankers. 
Mr. Lord was an old man with a shrewd, twinkling eye; and 
as the sham lawyer had selected his time wisely, he found the 
old banker alone. 

They were closeted in close converse for nearly half an hour, 
at the end of which time, the dapper lawyer took his departure, 
looking rather downcast; and Mr. Lord, with his little eyes 
brighter than ever, sat down and penned a letter to his friend 
and brother banker, Mr. Allyne, of Baltimore. 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


33 ? 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

MR. LORD’S LETTER. 

The friendship that had sprung up between Claire Keith and 
Mrs. Ralston, grew and strengthened as the days went by. 

Claire’s enthusiasm had overflowed in more than one letter to 
Olive. The oft-repeated wish that her new friend and her much 
loved sister might meet, had at last drawn from that somewhat 
preoccupied sister a very cordial invitation to bring Mrs. Ralston 
to New York. 

When this invitation came, Claire, feeling that it was now time 
to unfold to her friend the sad pages of Olive’s history, sought 
her for that purpose. But as she deemed that the time had not 
yet come for telling anyone of the hoped-for lifting of the cloud, 
especially as to do so she must tell too of Madeline, she refrained 
from mentioning the names of the actors in that miserable drama. 

Mrs. Ralston was deeply interested in the story of Olive’s 
sorrow; and having heard it, she felt a stronger desire than be- 
fore to see this beautiful, sad-hearted sister, who was so beloved 
by Claire. Bending down she kissed the fair face, flushed with 
the excitement Claire always felt when recounting her sister’s 
wrongs, and those of Philip Girard, and said, tenderly: 

“ Thank your sister in my name, my darling. And tell her 
that I will certainly avail myself of her kind invitation, at some 
future time.” 

Claire’s eyes danced eagerly. “Oh, I wish we could go now 
—at least, soon.” 


22 


338 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Fate chose to grant Claire’s desire in a most unexpected manner, 
for while they were still sitting, talking, in the semi-twilight, 
the library door opened and a servant announced Mr. Allyne, 
to see Mrs. Ralston. At once Mrs. Keith and her daughter 
arose to leave the room. But Mrs. Ralston said, earnestly: 

“Pray, do not go; there can be no need for a private inter- 
view.” 

And as at that moment Mr. Allyne himself appeared on the 
threshold, the ladies all advanced to welcome him, and, this 
ceremony being over, resumed their seats. 

“I have just received this letter from Mr. Lord,” said Mr. 
Allyne, after some moments of general conversation. “Read it, 
and then tell me your opinion of its contents.” 

The lady took the letter, looking the while somewhat anxious. 
As she read, the look of apprehension deepened. When at 
last she dropped the letter, her hands were trembling visibly, 
and her face was pale and agitated. For a moment she sat in 
silence, her eyes full of fear and her hands working nervously. 
Then she seemed to recover herself by a powerful effort of will. 
Taking up the letter, she placed it in the hand of Mrs. Keith, 
saying : “ Read it, dear friend.” 

Mrs. Keith took the letter and read : 


Wm. Allyne, Esq., New Yokk ’ Dee ' 7th ' 

Dear Sir : — A man assuming to be a lawyer called on me this afternoon, 
and requested information regarding our friend, Mrs. Ralston. If I am 
not much mistaken he is in reality a detective — I think I remember him 
in the Mallory case — and is, doubtless, looking up evidence in regard to 
the lady’s second and most unfortunate marriage, either at the instiga- 
tion of her vagabond husband or some of his supposed heirs. 

If you know the present address of Mrs. R. , it would be well to com- 
municate with her, as some of her old servants are now in this city, at 
service, and this fellow might ferret out something through them. 
Having no authority to act in the matter. I could do no more than 


MR. LORD S LETTER. 


339 


baffle this man’s inquiries so far as I was concerned, much as I desire to 
serve the lady when I know the way. 

One thing: the fellow evidently believes in the story of her death. 

Yours, etc., J. M. Lord. 

The three, Mrs. Ralston, Claire and Mr. Allyne, listened in 
silence while Mrs. Keith read this letter. When at last she 
raised her eyes, Mrs. Ralston said : 

“ I must go to New York immediately, Mrs. Keith, and do, 
pray, ydlow Claire to accompany me. I must accept of the 
hospitality of Mrs. Girard, and I can not go alone/’ 

Mrs. Keith looked grave for a moment. Then, she said : 
“ Mr. Allyne, is it necessary that Mrs. Ralston should go at 
once ?” 

“ I think it advisable,” replied Mr. Allyne. “ Once in New 
York, Lord can receive Mrs. Ralston’s instructions, and act for 
her. In cases like these I don’t think it is best to trust to cor- 
respondence.” 

“And, oh! don’t let us delay a moment! Once there, I can 
keep my old servants, who are all true friends, from inadvert- 
ently betraying me. And I can trust Mr. Lord to find out who 
is the instigator of this search,” said Mrs. Ralston, eagerly. 
“ Mr. Allyne, when can we start ; how soon ?” 

“Not earlier than to-morrow morning.” 

“Claire, can you be ready on such short notice?” asked the 
now anxious lady. 

“I? Oh, yes, indeed!” laughed the girl. “I could be ready 
in an hour ! I do detest waiting — don’t you, Mrs. Ralston ?” 

“Very much, just now,” said that lady, making an effort to 
smile; “forgive me, dear friends, but I am really unstrung. 
The thought of being hunted by that man is too horrible, after 
these years of peace.” 


340 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Then don’t think of it, dear Mrs. Ralston/’ cooed Claire. 
“You will be as safe as safe in the seclusion of my sister’s villa. 
And you can set things straight soon, when we have arrived. 
There can’t be much to fear, can there, Mr. Allyne?” 

“Nothing very formidable,” said the banker, rising to take 
his leave. “Pray, don’t exaggerate the trouble, Mrs. Ralston. 
Prompt attention, such as Lord will give the matter, will make all 
safe. Besides, he is not hunting you ; the man thinks you dead.” 

“True; I had forgotten,” said the lady, looking somewhat re- 
assured. “Claire, we will pack to-night, and then try and be 
content until it is time to go.” 

“Meantime, I will telegraph to Lord and let him know that 
you will come, and when,” said Mr. Allyne, taking up his hat 
to depart. 

The morning of their departure dawned clear and bright. 
Claire was in extravagant spirits, while even Mrs. Ralston 
seemed to catch the infectious cheeriness of the day, and her 
companion’s mood. 

When they were about to enter the carriage that was to take 
them to the depot, a letter was put into the hand of Miss Keith. 
She flung back her veil and leaning back among the cushions 
perused it in attentive silence. Having finished, she looked up 
with a little frown upon her brow, and exclaimed : 

“How very provoking!” 

Mrs. Ralston looked alarmed. “Is your sister ill?” 

“Oh, no; it’s Madeline.” 

“The young girl I have heard you speak of?” 

“Yes.” 

“Is she ill?” 

“No ; she got well, just to avoid me; she is gone.” 

“Gone?” 


34 * 


“ I HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

“Yes; or will be, when we arrive. Why, how stupid I am 
not to explain ! Madeline Payne has been with Olive nearly a 
week. She has been sick, but is better, and will leave there to- 
day.” 

Claire had said but little concerning Madeline, fearing lest in 
her enthusiasm she should say too much. But she had revolved 
many plans for bringing about a meeting between Mrs. Ralston 
and her “ brave girl.” 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

“i HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN!” 

Quite the pleasantest of all the rooms that had been so 
sumptuously fitted up, when “ Mrs. Torrance” came to Oakley, 
a bride, was the back drawing-room. At least it was pleasant- 
est in Winter. Its large windows faced south and west, and all 
of the Winter sunshine fell upon them, glowing through crimson 
curtains, and helping- the piled-up anthracite in the grate to 
bathe the room in a ruddiness of crimson and golden bronze. 

On this particular December day, the air was crisp and cold, 
and full of floating particles of hoar frost, while the winter sun 
shone bright and clear. Outside, one felt that it was an exceed- 
ingly cold sun. But viewed from within, it looked inviting 
enough, and one felt inspired to dash out into the frosty air and 
try if they could not walk a la hippogriffe, without touching 
their feet to the ground. 

Some such thought was floating through the mind of Mrs. 
John Arthur, who was progressing in her convalescence very 


342 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


rapidly now, and who had, on this day, made her second descent 
to the drawing-rooms. 

She had donned, for the first time since her illness, a dinner- 
dress of rosy silk, its sweeping train and elbow sleeves enriched 
with flounces of black lace. As there was, at present, no need 
to play the invalid — herself and Davlin being the sole occupants 
of the room — she was sweeping up and down its length like a 
caged lioness. 

By and by she swerved from her course, and coming to the 
grate, put a daintily shod foot upon the bronze fender. Rest- 
ing one hand on a chair, and looking down upon Davlin, who 
was lounging before the fire in full dinner costume, she said, 
abruptly : 

“ How very interesting all this is!” 

Davlin made no sign that he heard. 

a Do you know how long we have been playing this little 
game, sir?” 

The man smiled, in that cool way, so exasperating always to 
her, and lifting one hand, began to tell olf the months on his 
fingers. 

“Let me see, ball opened in June, did it not?” 

She nodded impatiently. 

“ J une !” He was thinking of his June flirting with Madeline 
Payne, and involuntarily glanced at the windows from whence 
could be seen the very trees under which they had wandered, 
himself and that fair dead girl, in early June. “Yes, the last of 
June — I remember,” — reflectively. 

“ And pray, from what event does your memory date ?” ex- 
claimed Cora, with strong sarcasm. 

He glanced up quickly. “ Why , Ma Belle , from your i ntroduc- 
tion to the hills and vales of Bellair, and the master of Oakley.” 


343 


“l HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

“Oh, I thought it was from the time you received youf 
pistol wound.” 

Davlin smiled. “ Yes, that scratch was given in June ; but I 
don’t date from trifles, Co.” 

“Oh! Well, I fancy it was not the fault of the hand that 
aimed the bullet, or rather of the heart , that you got a ‘ mere 
scratch.’ I never believed in your card-table explanation of 
that affair, sir.” 

“Well, don’t call me to account for your want of faith.” 

“ I believe you promised yourself revenge on the fellow who 
shot at you. Why didn’t you take it?” 

Lucian stooped down and brushed an imaginary speck from 
his boot toe, saying, as he did so: “I was forestalled.” 

“How?” 

“ The — fellow — is dead.” 

“ Oh, well, I don’t care about dead men — what I am anxious 
about is this — ” 

“ Oh, yes,” maliciously. “ Return to subject under discussion. 
You embarked in this enterprise in June—” 

“ Bother,” impatiently. 

“ Late in Summer, bagged your game; in early Autumn, fitted 
up this jolly old rookery — ” 

Cora gave a sniff of disdain. 

“ Next — well, you know what next. We haven’t been two 
months at this last job.” 

“Nevertheless I am tired of it.” 

“No?” ’ 

“I won’t stay here a prisoner much longer!” 

Davlin came close to her, and letting one hand rest upon her 
shoulder, placed the other over hers, which still lay upon the 
chair back. 


344 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Cora, we won’t quarrel about this. The situation is as try- 
ing to me as to you ; more so. But our safety lies in moving 
with caution, and — I will not permit you to compromise us by 
any hasty act. You understand!” 

His eyes held her as in a spell, and when, after a moment, tn9 
hand fell from her shoulder and his eyes withdrew their mes- 
meric gaze, the woman shrunk from under the one detaining 
hand and turned sullenly away, looking like a baffled leopardess. 

Davlin resumed his seat and his former careless attitude. 
Cora walked to the windoAV and looked down upon the scene 
below. 

At length the man asked, carelessly: “Where’s Percy?” 

“ Down there,” nodding toward the terrace, a portion of which 
was visible from her point of view. “ And, of course, my lady 
is in her room watching from her window. When he throws, 
away his cigar, and turns toward the house, she will comedown; 
not before.” 

Davlin laughed at her emphasis, and while the sound still 
vibrated on the air, the woman turned, and flinging herself upon 
a divan, said : 

“There, she is coming!” 

Complain as she might in private, Cora had acted her part to 
perfection. Between herself and Miss Arthur, there now ex- 
isted an appearance of great cordiality and friendliness. While 
she treated Percy with utmost politeness and hospitality, the re 
membrance of ten years ago acted as an effectual bar to anything; 
like coquetry, where he was concerned. 

Scarcely had Cora settled herself comfortably upon her divan, 
when the door opened noiselessly, and Miss Arthur sailed in, 
diffusing through the room the odor of Patchouli as she came. 
She was, as usual, a marvel of beflounced silk, false curls, rouge. 


345 


“I HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

and pearl powder. Her face beamed upon Cora in friendliness 
as she approached her, saying, with much effusion: 

“Oh, you poor child, how delightful to see you once more 
among us, and looking like yourself.” 

Lucian arose and gallantly wheeled forward a large easy chair, 
saying: “And how charming you look, Miss Ellen; you make 
poor Cora appear quite shabby by contrast.” 

Cora cast a rather ungrateful glance at the gentleman, and the 
spinster simpered, “Oh, you horrid man! Brothers are so un- 
grateful !” 

At this juncture, as Cora had predicted, Mr. Percy presented 
himself, and the four fell into attitudes, in front of the grate — 
Percy leaning on the back of Miss Arthur’s chair, and Cora and 
Davlin in their former places. 

“ Merei ,” said Miss Arthur, pretending to stifle a yawn, “why 
can’t we all be out in this keen air and sunshine? If there were 
but snow on the ground !” 

“ Snow !” cried Cora, annoyed out of her usual assumption of 
feebleness; “don’t mention it, if you don’t want me to die. 
We won’t have snow, if you please, until I can drive in a cutter.” 

Percy laughed softly; his laugh was always disagreeable to 
Cora, as having an undercurrent of meaning intended for her 
alone. And Davlin said : 

“Hear and heed, all ye gods of the wind and weather.” 

“Well, laugh,” said Cora, half laughing herself, “but I am 
beginning to feel ambitious. Do let’s try to set something afoot 
to make us feel as if we were alive, and glad that we were.” 

“Agreed, Cora,” cried Miss Arthur, gushingly, “only tell us 
what it shall be.” 

“Suggest, suggest;” this from Davlin. 

The spinster glanced up coquettish ly, “Edward, you suggest.” 


346 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Percy caressed his blonde whiskers thoughtfully, and letting 
his eyes rest carelessly on Cora, said, meaningly : “ Let’s poison 
each other !” 

“Or commit suicide!” retorted Cora, coolly. 

“Let’s be more sensible,” said Davlin. “Let’s organize a 
matrimonial society, get up a wedding, and go on a journey.” 

“Anything that will break the monotony,” said Cora, while 
the fair spinster giggled and put her hands before her face. 

At that moment the monotony was broken. 

While the words were still lingering on the lips of the fair 
convalescent, the door was opened wide by old-Hagar, who said, 
as if she had been all her life announcing the arrival of great 
ones at the court of St. James: 

“ Miss Madeline Payne!” 

Then she stepped back, and a vision appeared before them 
which struck them dumb and motionless with surprise. 

Across the threshold swept a young lady, richly robed in 
trailing silk and velvet and fur ; with a face fair as a star-flower, 
haughty as the face of any duchess; with amber eyes that gazed 
upon them contemptuously, masterfully, fearlessly; with wave 
upon wave of golden brown hair, clustering about the temples 
and snowy neck; and with scarlet lips half parted in a scornful 
smile. 

She swept the length of the room with matchless grace and 
self-possession, and pausing before the astonished group, said, in 
a voice clear as the chime of silver bells : 

“Good-evening, ladies and gentlemen! I believe I have not 
the honor of knowing — ah, yes, this is Miss Arthur; Aunt Ellen , 
how do you do ?” 

There are some scenes that beggar description, and this was 
such an one. 



“ Miss Madeline Payne !” — page 840. 

347 




v*- 




MADELINE PAYNE. 


m 

Miss Arthur, who clearly recognized in this lovely young lady 
the little Madeline of years ago, was so stricken with astonish- 
ment that she utterly forgot how appropriate it would be to 
faint. 

Cora sat like one in a nightmare. 

Percy was conscious of but one feeling. True to his nature 
even here, he was staring at this vision of beauty, thinking only, 
“how lovely! how lovely!” 

And Lucian Davlin ? At the first sight of that face, the first 
sound of that voice, he had felt as if turning to stone, incapable 
of movement or speech. At that moment, had Cora once 
glanced toward him, his face must have betrayed his secret. 
But her eyes were fixed on Madeline. 

Davlin felt a tempest raging within his bosom. Madeline 
alive ! This glowing, brilliant, richly robed, queenly creature — 
Madeline! Again in his ears rang her farewell words. Quick 
as lightning came the thought : she was his enemy, she would 
denounce him! And yet, throughout every fiber of his being, 
he felt a thrill of gladness. Again there surged in his heart the 
mad love that had sprung into being when she had so gloriously 
defied him. She was not dead, and he was glad ! 

Old Hagar had closed the door after her young mistress; and 
now she stood near it, calm and immovable as a block of ice. 

Madeline Payne stood, for a moment, gazing laughingly into 
the amazed face of the spinster. Then she said : “ Come, come, 
Aunt Ellen, don’t stare at me as if I were a ghost ! Introduce 
me to your friends. Is this lady my new step-mamma?” 

Cora roused herself from her stupor, and said, haughtily : “ I 
am Mrs. Arthur , and the mistress of the house !” 

“ Ah ! then you are my new step-mamma ? And you have 
been very ill, I understand. Pray, don’t rise, madame; you 


349 


“i HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

look feeble.” Then, turning again to Miss Arthur : “ Don’t yotf 
intend to speak to me, Aunt Ellen?” 

“ But,” gasped the spinster, “ I thought, that — you — ” 

“ Oh, I see ! You thought that I was dead, and you have 
been grieving for me. Well, I will explain : I ran away from 
my respected papa because he had selected for me a husband not 
at all to my taste. Not desiring to return immediately, I seized 
an opportunity that came in my way, and bestowed my name 
upon a poor girl who died in the hospital, thus making sure 
that my anxious friends would abandon all search for me. 
However, I havn thought better af my decision, and so I re- 
turn to my own home to take my position under the chaperon- 
age of my pretty step-mamma, as the Heiress of Oakley /” 

These last words opened the eyes of Cora to the new “situa- 
tion.” Springing to her feet, she forgot for the moment all her 
weakness, and cried, wrathfully: “You cannot come here with 
such a trumped-up story! Madeline Payne is dead and buried. 
You are a base impostor!” 

Madeline turned tranquilly towards the spinster. “ Aunt 
Ellen, am I an impostor?” 

“No,” said Ellen Arthur, sullenly ; “you are Madeline Payne. 
Any one in the village could testify to that.” 

Madeline turned to Cora. “Step-mamma, I forgive you. It 
is hard to find the entailed estate of Oakley slipping out of your 
hands, no doubt, but this world is full of disappointments.” 

Cora’s eves sought Lucian. That gentleman, who had, out- 
wardly at least, regained his composure, telegraphed her to be 
silent. 

Miss Payne asked : “ Which of these gentlemen is yocr brother, 
Mrs. Arthur?” 

Lucian stepped forward with his usual grace, saying; “ I am 


S50 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Mrs. Arthur’s brother, Miss Payne. Pray, let me apologize for 
her discourteous reception of you ; she has been very ill, and is 
nervous.” 

Madeline sank into a chair and surveyed him coolly, while 
she said : “ It is not necessary to apologize for your sister, Mr. — ■” 

“Davlin,” supplied Miss Arthur. 

“ Davlin,” repeated Madeline, as if the name had fallen upon 
her ears for the first time. “No doubt we shall be the best of 
friends by and by. I certainly have to thank her for making 
so marked an improvement in these old rooms,” glancing about 
her. 

Here the still confused Miss Arthur, in obedience to a sign 
from her lover, said: “Miss Madeline, this is my friend, Mr. 
Percy.” 

Mr. Percy advanced, bowing like a courtier. The young lady 
scrutinized him coolly, saying, with a gleam of mischief in her 
eyes: “I am delighted to meet any friend of my aunt’s.” 

Then she turned to Daylin again : “ But where is my step- 
papa? I have kept myself partially informed of events here. 
Is he still unable to be about?” 

Davlin looked very serious: “Miss Payne, I fear that my 
unhappy brother-in-law will never recover his reason.” 

Madeline uttered an exclamation expressive of concern, and 
said: “Oh, Mr. Davlin, then don’t let him know that I am 
here; at least not yet. I am so afraid of the insane. I couldn’t 
bear to see him now.” 

Cora drew a breath of relief, on hearing this. But Lucian, 
who knew the girl better, began to fear her, and mentally re- 
solved to define his own position as speedily as possible. One 
thing was evident ; it was no part of her plan to betray him, at 
least not yet, 


351 


“i HAVE OOME BACK TO MY OWN. ,; 

“ Nurse,” said Madeline, turning to Hagar, “see that a room 
is prepared for me immediately, and send a servant to the sta- 
tion for my luggage. Also, prepare a room for my maid, who 
is below, and tell her to get me out a dinner dress immedi- 
ately.” 

Then turning to Cora, “ Step-mamma, you look fatigued. Do 
go to your room and rest before dinner. Mr. Davlin, at what 
hour do you dine ?” 

He explained their reason for dining so early, and she said, as 
she turned again to Cora, 

“ Do lie down, step-mamma ; there is still a half-hour before 
dinner. And now I will go look after my maid.” 

She swept them all a stately courtesy, and Percy springing 
forward to open the door, she thanked him with a charming side 
glance, and passed from the room like a young princess. 

There was dead silence among them for a full minute after 
the door had closed behind her. Then Percy turned with a 
disagreeable smile upon his face, and said: 

“ You don’t stand in need of something exciting now, do you, — 
Mrs. Arthur?” 

This was too much. Cora sprang to her feet and casting one 
meaning glance toward Davlin, swept from the room, erect and 
firm, utterly regardless of the fact that her exit was quite in- 
compatible with , the invalid role she had been sustaining. 

An angry flush overspread the face of Lucian Davlin, as he 
realized, after one quick look at the face of Percy, how thoroughly 
she had betrayed herself. He was too good a diplomat, however, 
to quit the field without a stroke in his own behalf. So giving 
a low whistle he turned toward the spinster, saying : 

“See what excitement will do. One would think she had the 
strength of two of us.” 


352 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


To which Percy responded, dryly : “ She certainly did not 
step yke an invalid.” 

Then the three stood looking aimlessly at each oilier or any- 
thing, seemingly not at all inclined to converse. 

After a few moments of listless gazing out at the window, 
Lucian turned upon his heel and quitted the room. He was too wise 
to approach Cora in her present mood. Even had he thought 
it advisable, he felt little inclination to see and converse with 
her or anyone then. Like a man in a dream, he wandered out 
and down the wide hall. Almost unconsciously he opened the 
library door, and crossing to the great double window, leaned 
against the casement and looked out. 

Again his eyes rested upon the grove where he had so often 
wandered with the lovely girl who, to-day, had so coolly ignored 
him. Then she had clung to him with trusting affection; 
now, — how did she look upon him now? Could the love that 
she surely had felt for him in those Summer days, have entirely 
died out in her heart? Did not a woman’s love outlast her anger ? 
And was he not the same man, with the^same will-power, and 
the same strength of magnetism ? 

Where had she been all these months ? And how came she 
here now, robed liked a princess; she, who had certainly left 
her home penniless? Clearly, she had found friends. Who 
were they? And what did they know of matters here at 
Oakley ? 

For once Mr. Davlin was at a loss how to act. Would it be 
safe to stay? Would it be wise to go? Would he be able to 
control Cora in this new emergency? One thing was certain : 
The heiress of Oakley meant to be mistress in her mother’s 
house, and she was in a fair way to possess the throne. 

Lucian turned away from the window, and from the scene 


353 


“i HAVE COME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

that mocked him, mattering : “ I will see her alone, let come 
what will. I will make one struggle to regain my power over 
her, and if I succeed — ” v 

Evidently the wily gambler could not testify as to what 
would be likely to follow. For the second time since his part- 
nership with Cora, he found that lady a stumbling-block by no 
means despicable. 

On leaving the drawing-room, Cora rushed up the stairs, and 
throwing open the door of her dressing-room, fairly precipitated 
herself across the threshold, forgetting in her blind rage to 
close the door behind her. She stood still for an instant, and 
then, springing to the window, threw it wide open, letting in a 
flood of wintry air. For a moment she leaned across the sill, 
drinking in deep draughts of the frosty ether. Then dashing 
down the sash, she turned swiftly, and encountered a pair of 
bright black eyes that looked in at her from the secure dark- 
ness of the hall. Sweeping across the room, she confronted 
the owner of the eyes, demanding haughtily : 

“ Who are you? And how dare you spy at my door?” 

The woman — for it was a woman — came forward and said, 
respectfully : “ If you please, I am Miss Payne’s maid, and I 
was just bringing up some things from the hall, ma’am,” lifting 
to view a chatelaine and shawl strap. “ I didn’t mean to annoy 
you. I was only surprised to see such a pretty young lady here.” 

Miss Payne’s maid was a large woman of a very uncertain 
asre, arrayed in sober black, not at all like the usual ladies’ maid. 
But she seemed so very respectful, and full of contrition at 
having annoyed such a “ pretty lady,” that Cora made no fur- 
ther assault upon her, but closed the door with unusual em- 
phasis instead, and gave way once more to the wrath that was 
filling her soul. 


23 


354 


MADELINE PAYNE, 


To be baffled like this now ; now, when her schemes were 
approaching fruition ; now, wher this fair domain, this splendid 
fortune, was just within her grasp, to have it' plucked from her 
hand by a mere girl, who mocked her while she said, “ this 
wealth is mine, this house is mine; woman, you have schemed 
in vain !” 

And this was not all. She had bound herself hand and foot. 
She had jeopardized her liberty, for what might not occur, now 
that this girl could demand access to the imprisoned old man, 
her step-father? If she dared, she would go away that very 
night. But no; this would only confirm suspicion, if suspicion 
were entertained. 

Not the least drop in her cup of bitterness, was the knowledge 
that Edward Percy was secretly enjoying her discomfiture. As 
she thought of him, and his look when she swept past him, Cora 
stopped short in her angry promenade, and frowned fiercely. 
Then she crossed to her mirror and surveyed her agitated face, 
saying, half aloud: 

u At least I will rob him of that pleasure; baffled as I may 
be, he shall never enjoy my discomfiture! I can act a part yet. 
And Edward Percy shall find that if my schemes are to be 
overthrown, his, too, may suffer. He rejoices to see me thwarted ; 
I will thwart him, let it cost what it may l” 

And Cora began to smooth her rumpled locks, and put her 
somewhat disarranged toilet in order, with swift, firm fingers. 
While she was thus occupied, there came a tap upon her door. 
Recognizing it at once, as Davlin’s knock, she said, “come,” and 
never once lifted her eyes from her task. 

Luoian, finding that the dinner hour was at hand, and begin- 
ning to fear that Cora might still further commit herself, had 
thought it wisest to come and see what was the state of her feel- 


355 


“i HAVE OOME BACK TO MY OWN.” 

ings, and endeavor to persuade her to play out her part. He 
entered the room with some apprehension; but seeing her so 
composed, came close as she stood before her dressing-glass and 
said, as he gazed down at the flounce she was busy adjusting: 

“Xow is the time for pluck, Co. You will come down?” 

Cora gave a last touch to the silk and lace and then, letting 
the sweeping train fall from her hand, and standing very erect 
before him, said : 

“ Yes, I shall go down. Do you suppose I will let that man 
think that I am completely annihilated? There; don’t talk to 
me now! I shall not forget myself again, never fear. But 
after dinner, come to me here. You were wise enough to bring 
me into this charming i corner/ now let your wisdom take me 
out of it, or I will extricate myself in my own way.” 

Again the iron hand fell upon her shoulder, as her partner in 
iniquity hissed in her ear: 

“ And I intend that you shall not be a fool ! Our game is 
not lost. Let me once get the lay of the land, and we may 
win yet.” 

She turned her eyes upon him with angry incredulity. “ How, 
pray?” 

“Wait and see!” 

She made no reply, but, taking up her dainty handkerchief, 
turned to leave the room, motioning him to precede her. In 
the hall, she paused at the head of the stairs, saying: 

“Go down ; I will come directly.” 

“What are you going to do?” 

“ Go down,” she repeated ; “ I know what I am doing.” 

She went slowly down the hall in the direction of the room 
before which stood Madeline’s luggage that had just arrived 
from the little station, 


356 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Lucian gazed after her in some amazement, watched her tap 
softly, heard the door open, saw her enter the room, and then 
went slowly down-stairs. 


CHAPTER XXXVIII, - , r 

CORA UNDER ORDERS. 


When Cora entered the room, Madeline Payne stood before 
her mirror, while her maid, kneeling beside her, arranged the 
folds of lustrous azure silk that fell about the slender form. 

The door had been opened by Hagar, who could scarcely keep 
her eyes off the beautiful face and form of her young mistress, 
and who was, in consequence, making very slow progress with 
the work of putting away the garments that had been discarded 
in favor of the lovely dinner dress. 

Madeline realized fully that the part she was now playing 
was even more difficult and distasteful than that which she had 
abandoned. But she was resolute. To go back now would be 
worse than death. While she felt a thrill of repugnance as she 
saw the fair, sensual face of John Arthur’s wife reflected in her 
mirror, she turned with smiling countenance, saying: 

“Is it you, step-mamma? How kind of you! Am I delay- 
ing the dinner ?” 

“ No more than I am,” smiled Cora, in return. “ I thought 
you might like me to wait for you, as you are so much of a 
stranger to your old home.” 

“Oh, I am not at all timid, I assure you ; but it is nicer to 
go together. Am I almost ready, Strong?” 

“ Almost, Miss Payne.” 


CORA UNDER ORDERS. 


357 


"How quickly your maid dresses you,” said Cora, resolved to 
keep the conversational ball rolling. 

“Oh, yes; Strong knows how to pack things so that what you 
want first is uppermost, and I had my dinner dress in a hand 
traveling-case.” Then, turning about she asked, abruptly: 
“Have you a good maid, step-mamma?” 

Cora laughed nervously as she replied: “I have no maid, 
good or bad. My maid ran away a week ago, after robbing me 
and nearly killing me with chloroform.” 

“ Mercy, what a wretch ! What have you done with her ?” 

“We have not found her.” 

“Did you look?” 

“Yes; detectives are looking for her now.” 

“Well, I hope they will find her. Now I am ready; come, 
step-mamma.” 

And together the two descended the stairs. 

Three faces reflected three degrees of surprise, as the ladies 
entered the drawing-room with every appearance of good feeling 
and mutual satisfaction. Davlin and Percy took their cue im- 
mediately. The only one whom an observer would have pro- 
nounced not quite at ease, was Miss Ellen Arthur, who stared 
from one to the other rather more than was polite, and who sus- 
tained her part in the conversation in a very nervous, fragment- 
ary manner. 

Dinner being announced, Mr. Davlin promptly offered his 
arm to Madeline, who accepted it with perfect nonchalance. 
They followed Cora to the dining-room, themselves followed by 
Miss Arthur and Percy. 

Where four people separately, and each for his own end, de- 
termine to appear cordial and perfectly at ease, each one bent 
upon completely blinding the other three, there must of a ne- 


358 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


cessity be much conversation, and more or J§ss hilarity, whether 
real or assumed. 

These four, who were waging upon each other secret and 
deadly war, ate and drank together ; and while Madeline re- 
galed them with a fictitious account of herself during the time 
she had been supposed dead, the others listened and commented, 
and vied with each other in paying hypocritical court to the 
heiress of Oakley. 

“You see, step-mamma,” said Madeline, as they lingered 
over their dessert, “ I was never ignorant of what was going on 
here. Mv old nurse kept me informed. When I sent you the 
fiction of my death, I had no intention of returning, for I hacl 
determined never to live at Oakley during my step-father’s 
reign. But upon hearing of his insanity, I resolved to come 
back, being now, of course, the real head of the house. Mr. 
Arthur being non compos mentis , I, as heiress, assume control 
of my own.” 

If a wish could have killed, Cora would have closed forever 
that insolent smiling mouth. But she felt herself powerless. 

Davlin, with inimitable tact, came to her rescue : “ Cora will 
be only too glad to welcome the queen back to her own. In- 
deed, she has been for some time declaring her intention of ab- 
dicating, for a time at least, and taking Mr. Arthur south to 
some medicinal springs. But the doctor fears the change will 
not benefit him.” 

Madeline turned her eyes upon Coraf “ She can’t go just yet,” 
she said, with odd decision ; “ I want her society. Where is 
your doctor, Mr. Davlin?” 

“He is up-stairs with his patient, Miss Payne. He usually 
joins us at breakfast, but not often at dinner.” 

The truth was that Lucian, not feeling upon safe ground, had 


CORA UNDER ORDERS. 


359 


advised the “ doctor” to keep discreetly out of the way of this 
shrewd young lady for the present, lest her keen questions 
should draw out something not to their advantage. 

Miss Payne turned to Cora again. “You have perfect con- 
fidence in the skill of this doctor, step-mamma?” 

“Oh, yes!” said Cora, positively; u he has been known to me 
a very long time. Besides, we had in one of the Bellair doctors, 
who agreed with Dr. Le Guise in every particular.” 

“ Well, I must see this learned gentleman to-morrow, and my 
step-papa also, I think. Step-mamma, you look fatigued ; dining 
is too much for your strength. Let us leave the gentlemen to 
ttieir wine and cigars.” 

As if she had been presiding at that table all her life, Miss 
Payne arose, bowed to the two men, and preceding the two as- 
tonished ladies, swept from the dining-room. 

Cora, as she followed the graceful figure, could hardly restrain 
her mortification and rage. She felt a longing amounting 
almost to frenzy, to spring upon the girl and stab her in the 
back. 

The two men did not linger long in the dining-room. Each 
felt anxious, for reasons of his own, to be again in the presence 
of Miss Payne, and so soon joined the ladies in the drawing- 
room. 

After a little more hypocrisy on all their parts, Cora arose to 
retire to her apartments, declaring that the excitement of Miss 
Payne’s arrival had made her forgetful of herself and her 
health, and that she began to feel her fictitious strength departing. 

Madeline, too, arose, and offering her arm to Cora, said that 
she would also retire. Nodding a careless good-night to the 
three deserted ones, she left the room, with the fair invalid lean- 
ing languidly upon her arm. 


360 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


To the surprise and dissatisfaction of Cora, Madeline not only 
accompanied her to her own apartment, but entered with her. 
Having closed the door carefully behind them, she turned about, 
and dropping all her assumed gayety and friendliness, said with 
the air of a queen commanding a subject : 

“Now, Mrs. Arthur, let us understand each other!” 

The sudden and marked change of her voice and manner 
startled the woman out of all her self-possession. She stood 
staring in the stern face of the girl with all of the audacity 
frightened out of her own. 

Cora was an adventuress to the tips of her fingers. She was 
fond of intrigue; she possessed a certain kind of courage; but 
she was, after all, at heart, a coward. She was quite willing to 
compromise her soul for gain, but not her body. In short, she 
loved herself too well to find any piquancy in personal danger. 

Since the loss of the papers and the flight of Celine Leroque 
had shaken her feeling of security, Cora had been restive and 
anxious to bring this plot to a climax. She had found it not at 
all to her taste to have Percy holding over her head a sword, be 
it ever so slender. And now, as she confronted Madeline, all 
her selfishness was alarmed. She waited in absolute fear the 
next words from the lips of her enemy. 

“You need not weary yourself by playing the invalid in my 
presence, madame,” pursued the girl. “I am quite well aware 
that your illness has been all a sham. I know, too, that you 
have found the role of invalid very irksome.” 

The eyes of Cora widened still more, and all the color fled 
from her lips. But she made a fierce struggle and, although 
she could not summon up her usual insolence, she managed to 
gasp out, half defiantly: “What do you mean?” 

“You understand my meaning,” replied the girl, with con- 


CORA UNDER ORDERS. 


361 


tempt. “I mean that you are in my power, and that you must 
obey my will.” 

For a moment Cora’s anger outweighed her fear. She came 
a step nearer and said, sneeringly : “ Indeed, Miss Payne ! That 
remains to be seen !” 

“True,” assented Madeline, coldly. “First, then, you had 
better instruct your friend, Dr. Le Guise, not to administer 
hasheesh to Mr. Arthur to-morrow, in order to have him prop- 
erly insane when I visit him.” 

Cora’s knees bent under her, and all the color fled out of her 
face. But she rallied her flying courage enough to say: “Ex- 
plain yourself, Miss Payne.” 

Madeline drew toward her Cora’s easiest lounging chair, and 
seated herself therein with much deliberation, saying, as she 
did so: 

“You had better sit down, Mrs. Arthur; there is no necessity 
for a display of anger, or for any more attempts at deception. 
The one is as useless as the other is transparent. AndM have 
considerable to say to you.” 

Cora moved sullenly toward a chair and sank into it, feeling 
like a woman in a nightmare. 

“First, then, for your position,” pursued Madeline. “ It is 
sufficient to sav that I know of your scheme to dispose of Mr. 
Arthur and inherit the wealth you supposed to be his.” 

Cora was beginning to feel a return of combativeness, and she 
exclaimed quickly: “That is false!” 

“I know,” pursued her inquisitor, ignoring her retort, “(hat 
this man you call ‘ Dr. Le Guise,’ is your tool and — I have had 
every drug that has been prescribed by him analyzed by city phy- 
sicians /” 

Cora saw that she was indeed undone, and began to fight with 


362 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


the recklessness of despair. “I don’t believe you!” she cried, 
reckless that she was committing herself. “ That old spy, Hagar, 
has fancied these things. How could you get the medicines?” 

“Not through Hagar.” 

“How then?” 

“ Just as I got the certificate of your marriage with Air. Percy” 

The woman sprang to her feet. “You — you are — 

“Celine Leroque, madame!” with an imitation of the ladies’ 
maid accent. 

Cora fell back in her chair panting. 

“ Now,” resumed Madeline, “ why don’t you reflect that, if it 
were my intention to denounce you, I could have done tliat long 
ago. Are you not aware that my step-father is my enemy ?” 

“Not — in that way.” 

“In that way precisely. John Arthur tortured mv mother 
until she died heart-broken. He made my childhood miserable, 
and shut me up in a convent to pass my girlhood in loneliness. 
He bartered mein marriage to a man older and uglier than him- 
self, for ten thousand dollars. Then I defied him to his face; 
swore to revenge upon him my mother’s wrings and mine; and 
ran away. Do you understand now why I have allowed you to 
persecute John Arthur?” 

Cora’s courage began to revive. U I think I do,” she said, 
slowly. 

“ You see, Mrs. Arthur, it is in my power to arrest you; first, 
for Bigamy, and second, for Attempted Poisoning.” 

Cora looked at her coolly. “But you won’t do either,” she said. 

“Won’t I? And why not?” 

“Because, to do either, you must bring your own name into 
too prominent notice.” 

Madeline laughed scornfully. 



You — you are — !” “Celine Leroque, madame.” — page 362. 

363 





364 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ You forget,” she said/ “ I left my home for revenge. I 
feigned to be dead — I returned to Oakley in disguise — for re- 
venge. Do you think that I will let my pride stay me when, 
by exposing you, I can complete my vengeance upon John 
Arthur?” 

Cora’s countenance fell. She had not viewed the matter in 
just that light. She made no answer, and Madeline continued: 

“ Don’t flatter Yourself that I shall hesitate, if I cannot effect 
my purpose otherwise. I am not disposed just now to war with 
you, but if you do not see fit to accept my terms, then I must 
turn against you.” 

“What do you want of me?” sullenly. 

“I want you to continue as we have begun. I want Miss 
Arthur, Mr. Percy, and your brother, to believe us the best of 
friends. Above all, I want John Arthur to think us allies.” 

“ And what then ?” 

“ Then, you will be safe so far as I am concerned. Then, 
when I have accomplished my purpose and hold in my hands 
the keys to the Oakley coffers, you shall have money, and shall 
go hence to resume your career in whatever field you choose.” 

“What security have I for all this?” 

“My word!” 

“And if I reject your terms?” 

Madeline smiled oddly. 

“What is to prevent my leaving this place now, to-night?” 
said Cora. 

Madeline laughed, saying: “Do you want to try that?” 

“ It I did, what then ?” 

“Then — you would not be permitted to leave these premises!” 

“Ah ! you have spies in this house !” 

“Yes; and out of it. There is no chance for you to escape. 


CORA UNDER ORDERS. 


365 


There is no chance for any one to escape. Mrs. Arthur, is this 
man that you call your brother really such, or is he, too, in your 
plot ?” 

Cora looked at her keenly, but it was no part of Madeline’s 
plan to let her know that she had ever seen Lucian Davlin be- 
fore that evening. Her face was as calm and inscrutable as the 
face of the sphinx. 

“No,” said Cora, at length “my brother does not know of it.” 

“ I am glad of that,” replied Madeline. “ But, for fear of any 
deception, he will be kept under surveillance ; and if anything 
is communicated to him I shall surely know it.” 

“Why did you rob me of those papers?” asked Cora, abruptly. 

“ Because,” said Madeline, leaning forward, “ you and I have 
a common enemy.” 

“What! not Percy?’ 

“Yes, Percy!” 

Cora looked amazed. “But — have you known him before?” 

“I never saw him until he came to Oakley.” 

“I can’t see how he has incurred your enmity here.’’ 

“He has not incurred my enmity here. I hated him before 
I ever saw him.” 

“Why ?” 

“Because he has wronged a friend who is as dear to me as 
life.” 

“Oh!” 

“ Don’t puzzle your brain over this ; you won’t be enlightened. 
It is sufficient for you to know that you can serve me if you 
choose, because we are both enemies of the same men.” Then, 
rising, “Now choose; will you remain here as my ally, or leave 
in disgrace, and a prisoner, as my enemy?” 

Cora reflected, and finally said : “ I accept your terms.” 


366 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Very good; and now for precautions. You must allow me 
to supply you with a maid.” 

“What?” 

“You are an invalid; I am well and strong. What could 
be more natural than that I should desire you to have every care 
and comfort that I can desire? I shall give you my maid; she 
will supply the place of Celine Leroque.” 

“I won’t have her/’ cried Cora, angrily. “I won’t have a 
jailer.” 

“Certainly not; you will have my maid, however. I will 
get another to-morrow.” 

“ I won’t have her !” 

“Nonsense.” Madeline stepped quickly to the door and 
opened it. “Strong,” she said, softly. 

Instantly in stepped Strong, who had been just outside await- 
ing the orders of her mistress. 

“Strong,” said Madeline, “ I am going to let you wait upon 
Mrs. Arthur. She is in delicate health, and needs a maid. You 
must be vei % y attentive, and don’t let her get into any draughts. 
You can sleep in the dressing-room; and if she is not well eared 
for , I shall hold you accountable.” 

Cora looked at the big, robust woman, so appropriately called 
Strong, and felt that she was indeed a prisoner. 

Strong bowed in silent submission to the will of her late 
mistress, and turned her broad visage upon her new one. 

Madeline moved to leave the room, saying, with a return to 
her former manner: “Good-night, step-mamma; try and go 
down to breakfast with me in the morning, won’t you?” 

Without waiting for a reply, she opened the door and swept 
across the hall, and Cora heard her door close behind her. Not 
deigning a single glance at Strong, Cora sat tapping her foot 


MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 


367 


upon the carpet and reviewing the situation. After some angry 
musing, the practical side of her nature began to assert itself. 
She reflected that she was not, after all, in immediate danger; 
and that she would be still, to all outward appearance, the mis- 
tress of Oakley. There was not much to fear just now, and she 
would keep her eyes open. 

Meantime, she would not be unnecessarily uncomfortable. 
And so, being by nature indolent, she decided to make the most 
of the unwelcome Strong. Turning toward the statue-like fig- 
ure near the door, she galvanized it into life by saying: 

“ Strong, get my dressing-gown from that closet, and then 
take otf my dress.” 

And Strong commenced her duties with cheerful alacrity. 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 

MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 

John Arthur sat before a smoldering fire, gazing moodily 
down at the charred embers that had lost their glow and only 
showed a dark red light here and there, as if to assure one that 
there was fire in the grate. 

He was thinner than of old. His face wore a sickly pallor. 
His hands that clutched the arms of his invalid’s chair worked 
incessantly, indicating surely that his nerves were in anything 
but a state of calm. He was feeble, too, in body ; but his mind, 
spite of the verdict of the Bellair physician and the drugs of the 
Professor, was still unimpaired. 

In the solitude of the two rooms, out of which he had not once 


368 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


stepped since first he was removed to the west wing, he had had 
ample time for reflection; but he had by no means arrived at a' 
state of mental beatitude. 

He had found it useless to struggle, useless to bluster, to argue 
or to plead. Henry was a merciless jailer, and Dr. Le Guise a 
sarcastic one. 

His breakfast had been served, and stood upon the table beside 
him; but he scarcely glanced at it. When Henry came in from 
the ante-room to remove the things, he said, without looking up: 
“Go ask Le Guise to come to me.” 

Henry carried away the tray, deposited it in the ante-room, 
locked the door of the chamber carefully, and made his way to 
the breakfast-room. 

At that moment, the incongruous mixture called the family, 
were there assembled, including the Professor. The latter was 
just then discussing the condition of his patient with Miss Payne, 
in blissful ignorance of the fact that the young lady was fully 
conversant with his mode of treatment, and the true condition 
of her step-father’s health. 

“You see, my dear young lady,” the Professor said, pom- 
pously, “his is the worst form of insanity; the very worst. # 
When a patient raves constantly we know precisely what to do 
with him. But when he is, at times, to all appearance, as sane as 
yourself, and yet liable at any moment to blaze out a perfect mad- 
man, one dislikes to treat him as a madman, and yet it is not 
safe to consider him a sane being.” 

Madeline nodded, with a splendid assumption of profound 
interest. 

“It’s a sad case,” she said, pensively. “I almost dread the 
interview.” 

“I think he is quite collected this morning, and he may be 


MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 


369 


calm throughout. I hope so, for I should not like to have you 
witness one of his tantrums.” 

“ I have seen him in tantrums when he was considered sane,” 
said the girl, with an odd intonation. 

Then looking up, she saw Henry, who had entered the room 
and stood staring at her in speechless amazement. Hagar had 
informed him that his young mistress was in the house. But 
he was not prepared for the vision of loveliness that the girl 
presented, as she turned toward him clad in her morning robe 
of snowy cashmere bordered with swansdown, and trailing after 
her like a train of snow. Luckily no one noted his start 
of surprise and quick glance of recognition, and Madeline 
said : 

“Is not that my step-father’s attendant, doctor? I think he 
wants you.” 

The “doctor” beckoned Henry to approach, and said, af- 
fably : “ Well, and how is our patient, Henry?” 

“About as usual, sir. But he wants to see you.” 

“ Oh, he does? Poor soul, I’ll come directly, Henry.” Then, 
turning to Madeline: “Shall I break to him the news of your 
arrival ?” 

•“No; not unless you think it unsafe to surprise him.” 

“ On the contrary, an agreeable surprise might prove bene- 
ficial.” 

The Professor, who had received sundry instructions from 
JOavlin, assumed to be ignorant of the fact that the patient sup- 
posed his step-daughter dead. 

Smiling a little at the hypocrisy of the man, who pretended 
to have at heart the interest of a patient supposed to be in an 
excesssively nervous state, yet was quite ready to expose that 
patient to the shock of meeting, without previous preparation,. 

24 


370 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


one supposed to be dead and in her grave, Madeline turned, 
and with a gesture brought Cora to her side. 

“ Is Dr. Le Guise aware that my step-papa believes me to be 
dead ?” she asked. 

Cora and the Professor looked dubiously at one another for an 
instant. Then the former, seeing her cue in the face of the latter, 
said : “ He is not.” 

“ Well, step-mamma, I am going up to see him soon, and, on 
second thought, it will be best to have the doctor inform him of 
my resurrection.” 

Cora nodded. 

“And,” pursued the girl, “I will only say that I desire you, 
doctor, to inform him that I feigned death for reasons of my 
own. That I am here in the flesh, and will appear in his pres- 
ence soon. When you have prepared him for my coming, have 
the goodness to come down and tell me.” 

Saying this she turned away, after which the Professor quitted 
the room to obey the summons of his patient. 

Lucian Davlin had witnessed the interview, the summons and 
the departure, from a distance. He had found no opportunity 
for conversing with Cora, as yet, and was sorely puzzled by the 
present aspect of affairs. « 

He had watched the two narrowly, but he found himself un- 
able to read the true meaning lurking beneath the soft words 
that fell from the lips of Madeline. He could hear no jar in 
the music of her voice, could catch no glance that would give 
the lie to her honeyed words. She was playing her part like a 
born actress. 

He had not expected to see Cora accept the situation without 
a struggle. He was glad to find that there was to be no scene, 
and yet — somehow he felt himself at a disadvantage. 


MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 


371 


He had viewed the situation from his standpoint, however, 
and had decided upon his course of action. 

First, he was resolved not to quit the field until he had made 
a desperate attempt to regain his power over the heiress of 
Oakley. Second, he would use stratagem in order to obtain an 
interview with her. 

In due time, Dr. Le Guise came among them once more, and 
announced to Madeline his readiness to conduct her into the 
presence of his patient. 

“ He is quite prepared to see me, then ?” questioned Made- 
line. 

“ Quite, although I left him a trifle agitated and upset.” 

As they paused at the door leading from the hall of the west 
wing, she said : 

“ I will go in alone, Dr. Le Guise.” 

“ As you piease.” Then, as it were an afterthought. “ I 
really believe, for your own safety, you had better keep Henry 
near you.” 

“I shall be in no danger,” she replied, and entered the outer 
chamber, closing and locking the door after herself. 

In answer to her knock, the door of the ante-chamber was 
unlocked and opened by Henry. Madeline swept across the 
threshold and extended her hand to the faithful fellow, 
saying: 

“ Henry, I am glad to see you. I hope you do not find your 
present duties too heavy?” 

“Not since I knew I was serving you, miss,” said the man, 
respectfully. 

“You are serving me, Henry. I need you here very much; 
and rest assured you shall have your reward for all you have 
done or may do for me.” 


372 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Evidently the prospect of reward was not unpleasing to him. 
His countenance beamed satisfaction. 

“And, Henry,” continued his mistress, “ attend to this. You 
are not, on any account, to give your charge any more of the 
medicine prepared for him by the doctor.” 

A look of surprise shone from the eyes of the negro, but he 
answered simply, like the well-trained servant he was: “Yes, 
miss.” 

“Above all, Henry, you are to let the doctor think that you 
administer all that he gives you.” 

Henry signified that he fully understood and would obey 
his instructions. Then he opened the inner door, and John 
Arthur and Madeline Payne stood once more face to face ! 

F or a moment, the two eyed each other in silence. Then 
John Arthur said, with a sneer on his lip, and in a tone which 
proved clearly that time and imprisonment had not taught him 
meekness : 

“So, you young jade, what escapade have you been up to 
now? And how dare you come back here like a young prin- 
cess? Why don’t you keep out of my house?” 

Madeline laughed scornfully. “ Your house ! — But I forgive 
you, step-papa; of course you are not accountable for your 
words.” 

Her tone was mockery itself. The man found it difficult to 
restrain his wrath as he looked in her scornful face and said : 
“Don’t dare to pretend to believe that I am crazy! Are you 
in league against me, too?” 

Wishing to draw from him just how much of the baseness of 
Cora he believed in, or suspected, she dropped her voice and 
asked, in assumed surprise: “Is it possible that you believe 
some one to be plotting against you?” 


MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 


373 


“Is it possible! How else could I be kept shut up a pris- 
oner in my own house?” 

The girl seemed to ponder. “ Who is your enemy ?” she 
asked. 

“Every one in this house.” 

“ What! Surely not your wife?” 

“I’m not so certain of that.” 

“But she, too, has been sick.” 

“Have they locked her up?” snapped he. 

Madeline smiled. “Well, not exactly; she is not allowed 
much liberty, though.” 

“Why won’t she come and see me?” 

“Mercy! She is too delicate.” 

“Seems to me you are well informed for one so lately ar- 
rived.” 

“I am well informed, Mr. Arthur. But I am not a late ar- 
rival.” 

“What do you mean ?” sullenly. 

“Just what I say,” with an odd laugh. “I have been in 
this house since you were first put in these rooms.” 

He sat like one stupefied. At last he sprang up and fairly 
yelled, “ In the fiend’s name, explain this chicanery. Why are 
you here? Who is keeping me a prisoner, and wherefore? Is 
it you, you little virago?” 

“Softly, step-papa; one thing at a time. I am here because 
you are here,” she said in a voice of unruffled calm. “Who is 
keeping you a prisoner, you ask? I am” 

Once more he seemed on the point of giving way to a parox- 
ysm of rage, but controlled himself and said, sullenly : 

“I suppose I may thank you for my imprisonment from first 
to last.” 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


374 

“You may thank me if you choose, but it will be bestowing 
your gratitude upon the wrong party. I did not lock you up. 
I simply permitted it.” 

. “And why have you leagued with my wife — curse her — to 
shut me up like a thief?” 

“Why?” her voice rising in angry scorn, “Do you ask me 
ichyf Why did you make my mother almost a prisoner in her 
own home? Why did you crush her in life, and blaspheme her 
in death? Why did you drive her daughter from the home that 
was hers, to escape from your cruelty, your insults, your avarice? 
John Arthur, how dare you ask me ivliy you are here!” 

Again the flashing eye, the ringing, wrathful voice, the white, 
uplifted hand. They menaced him again, as on that June even- 
ing when she had defied him and then fled out into the darkness, 
not to return, save in dreams, until now. 

Again he felt a thrill of terror, and he sat before her mute 
and cowering. At last he found voice to say: “Do you mean 
that you intend to keep me a prisoner?” 

Her eyes met his full. They were cold as snow and resolute 
as fate. “You will never leave these rooms until you accede to 
the terms I have to propose.” 

Her audacity fairly stunned him. He fell back a pace as he 
said : “ What — terms ?” 

“First, you are to agree to resign the guardianship of my 
property. Second, you are to leave Oakley forthwith and for- 
ever, and to keep ever and always away from me and all that is 
mine.” 

* “Bah!” he cried, angrily, “do you think lam a fool? I 
won’t resign my guardianship ; the property is mine, not yours!’’ 

“Then I will choose a new guardian immediately. How 
ignorant of law you are, step-papa ! Don’t you know that you 


MYSTIFIED PEOPLE. 


375 


are legally dead ? Don’t you know that a lunatic can’t hold 
property ? Legally, I can choose a guardian to-morrow.” 

“ You she-devil! But I am not a lunatic!” sneered he. 

“How obtuse you are, step-papa! You are a lunatic; we 
have the "certificates of two physicians to that effect; and that is 
all the law requires. Now, be reasonable; what can you do?” 

“ I’ll get out, by heavens,” he yelled ; “ and I’ll put you in 
State’s prison for false imprisonment!” 

She turned upon him with the utmost composure. “ My dear 
sir, you have not one witness to prove that you are a sane man. 
There are many to prove that you have been subject to violent 
fits of madness.” 

She turned again, and he, no longer seeking to control his 
rage, sprang toward her, uttering a volley of curses. 

During their entire interview, Henry had stood like a sentinel 
at the outer door of the ante-room, while that leading into the 
chamber of the prisoner stood wide open. At the first accent of 
rage, he darted forward; and as the girl sprang away from her 
step-father, that gentleman felt himself seized and hurled with 
scant ceremony to the middle of the room. 

“ Don’t you try that, sir !” cried Henry, in high wrath. “ Y ou 
won’t find me a friend, if you do.” 

u So,” panted the old man, “this is one of your hirelings, is 
it? And pray, sir, what is this young fiend to pay you for your 
services?” 

“That’s my affair,” responded the man, coolly. “You can’t 
buy me off; and if you try that game again, you will get your- 
self into a straight jacket.” 

Madeline laughed, and said : “ There, Henry, you need not 
be alarmed for me. But when you report this attack to the 
doctor, tell him that I think he had better take measures to 


376 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


secure his safety and yours, in case your patient should be again 
seized with a fit of violence.” 

John Arthur immediately saw that he had damaged his own 
cause. 

“You had better sleep upon my proposition, Mr. Arthur,” 
said Madeline, from the threshold. “If you pine for liberty, 
send for me. And don’t think, for a moment, that I shall allow 
you to go free without taking the necessary precautions to insure 
myself against any trouble you might desire to make me. 
Adieu, Mr. Arthur.” And she swept from the room. 

John Arthur stood for many minutes in the same place and 
attitude. When his anger would permit him, he began to 
wonder. She had come and gone, and how much the wiser was 
he? Where had she been all these months? Why had she al- 
lowed them to think her dead? Who were her friends, for 
friends she must have found? Why had her presence in the 
house, if she had been here, been kept from him? How had 
she gained the ascendancy over every one in that house? He 
thought so long and intensely that he started up, at last, almost 
beginning to fear that he was becoming mad. 

When Dr. Le Guise again came into his presence, he began 
to question him. But it was labor lost. Dr. Le Guise would 
not admit that he was a sane man. Dr. Le Guise knew noth- 
ing, absolutely nothing, outside the range of his professional 
duties. He was sorry for his patient; very sorry. He assumed 
to take all assertions on the part of Mr. Arthur as so many fro h 
evidences of insanity. 

He was very grave, was Dr. lie Guise, but not to be moved. 
In fact, the prisoner fancied that he could observe in the doctor's 
tone, manner, and countenance, an unusual degree of compla- 
cency, and relish for his position and authority. And the 





“Don’t try that, sir!” cried Henry, in high wrath.— page 375. 

377 





378 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


prisoner was right. The reason for the doctor’s placidity of 
manner was simply this: 

Madeline on leaving the rooms of the west wing, had en- 
countered the worthy “ doctor” just at the turn of the passage, 
and she had paused, saying: 

“Dr. Le Guise, you were right about my unfortunate step- 
father. He is quite mad, and really a dangerous charge. An 
ordinary fee is too little to offer you, considering what you have 
undertaken. I don’t know what terms my step-mamma has 
made with you, but I will volunteer to double her price. You 
will be amply remunerated, and must consider the house and 
everything in it at your disposal, so long as you keep your patient 
safe, and do not permit him to do any mischief.” 

The astute Professor had taken in the full meaning of her 
words, which served to quiet the fears that had haunted him since 
the advent of Miss Payne; fears that the young lady would 
prove to be an enemy, and one keen enough to fathom the secret 
they were keeping hidden in the west wing. 

He had seen that, for some reason, neither Cora nor Davlin 
dared, or did, oppose her. Now he fancied he understood the 
reason; it was because they did not fear her, for her interests 
were in common with theirs. 

“He is certainly a dangerous man,” said the Professor, gravely ; 
“ I will obey your instructions to the letter.” 


CHAPTER XL. 
davlin’s “points.” 

Madeline having left the morning-room, accompanied by the 
too observant Professor, Lucian saw at once his opportunity for 


DAVLIN’s "POINTS.” 


379 


a few words with Cora. Without, too great an appearance of 
haste, he moved across the room, pausing before the tire, in front 
of which Miss Arthur was seated, and addressing to her a few 
careless words. Then he glanced at Percy, who sat at the most 
remote corner of the room, assuming to be much interested in 
some geological specimens in a little cabinet. 

Cora divined his intention. She knew, too, that this was the 
very best place for an interview, which she desired to make a 
brief one, being somewhat afraid of committing herself if she 
allowed him to ask too many questions. So she moved over to 
the window, and seated herself in a low chair. 

She had decided upon her own present course of action. She 
would play her part well while she remained at Oakley, and she 
would escape from it as soon as she had succeeded in blinding 
the eyes of her jailers, for she mentally acknowledged them as 
such. 

When Davlin at length crossed the room, and dropped care- 
lessly down in the chair at her. side, she lifted her eyes to his, 
and said, inquiringly: "Well?” 

He looked at her keenly for a moment. Then, not to lose 
any time by useless words, came straight at the point. 

"Time’s precious, Co. We can’t attract attention- by a long 
dialogue, and yet we must talk things over. When can I find 
you alone?” 

"Not at all for a day or two.” 

"Why not?” elevating his eye-brows. 

Cora rested her head upon her hand in such a way as to com 
ceal from those at the opposite end of the room, the expression 
of her face, and said : 

" Because I want to be sure that we can talk without being 
observed. Miss Payne seems very friendly, and has given me 


380 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


her maid because, she says, an invalid needs waiting on, and she 
sleeps in my dressing-room. I don’t want to excite suspicion by 
sending her away, in order to admit you, and — I don’t see that 
there is much to be said.” 

Lucian seemed weighing her words for a moment. Then he 
asked : “ What do you make of Miss Payne?” 

“ What do you make of her?” she retorted, quickly. 

“ Nothing, as yet.” 

“No more do I.” 

Another brief silence, and then he asked : “ Do you think there 
is any immediate danger — for us?” 

“As how?” 

“From him: Arthur.” 

Now came Cora’s grand coup. She felt pretty sure that Lucian 
knew of her interview with Madeline, and believed that she 
would be telling him no news when she said: 

“ Listen ! She went with me to my room last night, and she 
asked a good many questions about him. And I am sure of 
this: she is no friend to him, and if she sees no reason for sus- 
pecting any of us, she won’t trouble herself about him. She told 
me that she ran away from home because she had been so op- 
pressed by him, and that his attempt to marry her off, in order 
to put money in his own pocket, was only one among many of 
the things she had endured at his hands. Of one thing I am 
sure: the old man may be a stumbling-block to us, but he is an 
object of positive hatred to her.” 

Cora uttered this combination of truth and falsehood without 
the least compunction. If she could have warned him of the 
danger hanging over them without jeopardizing herself, she 
would have done so. But that, she knew, was impossible. 

He had planned this “ game” which now bade fair to b6 such 


davlin’s “POINTS.” 0 


381 


an utter failure, and if anyone must suffer, why, let it be him. 
And then, too, she reasoned, she had not gathered from the words 
of Madeline that she suspected Mr. Davlin of duplicity of any 
kind. As for the Professor, Cora cared little what became of' 
him. She could gain nothing and might, doubtless would, lose 
much by warning him. 

Lastly, Cora assured herself that were their positions reversed, 
and Lucian the one who saw that his own safety lay in leaving 
her to her fate, he would not scruple to make her his scape- 
goat. And in this she was quite right. 

Again the man seemed to puzzle over some knotty, mental 
question. Then he arose, and leaning against the window frame 
in a favorite attitude, glanced across at Percy and the spinster 
as he asked, slowly : “ Did she say anything about me? 

Cora looked . up in genuine surprise. “ About you ? No ; 
why should she?” 

“ I mean,” he said, “did she say anything to cause you to 
think that she suspected us ?” 

“ No,” shortly ; “ why should she? She never saw either of 
us until yesterday.” 

“What do you think brought her back here just now?” 

“ It’s easy enough to see why she came back. She has heard 
of the insanity of Mr. Arthur, and has come, as she said, to 
take possession of her own.” 

Another pause; then Cora said: “Is the Professor ‘up’ to 
anything new?” 

' “No.” 

“ Then don’t let him take the alarm. It would hurt us. 
We can’t run now, and I don’t think we have much to fear. 
We will lose the money — that’s all.” 

Lucian looked out upon the evergreens and graveled walks 
of Oakley, and said, under his breath : “Will we ?” 


382 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Then he turned upon his heel and sauntered out of the room. 

The question that was then uppermost in his mind, the 
question that had been since the first shock of her reappearance 
had given him time to think, was, why had Madeline returned 
to Oakley ? 

Was it, as she alleged, because she had changed her mind, 
and wanted to be mistress of her own ? Or was it because he 
Avas there ? If he could convince himself that the latter reason 
Avas the true one, then he would know Iioav to act. 

She had kept herself informed of affairs at Oakley. Then 
she must have knoAvn of the fact that the so-called brother of 
John Arthur’s Avife Avas Lucian Davlin. She must have known 
that. Of course she kneAv it. Did not her manner on the 
evening of her arrival prove that ? Not for one instant did 
she lose her self-possession. Had his presence been unexpected, 
she could hardly have restrained every sign of emotion, of 
recognition. Clearly, she Avas prepared for their meeting. 

Ah ! noAv he was getting at things. If she came to Oakley, 
knoAving him to be established there as a member of the family, 
she came expecting to meet him. She was not afraid of him, 
then. She Avas not averse to meeting him. Perhaps — he be- 
gan to think it highly probable — she came solely to meet him. 
If so, did she come tor love, or — for revenge? 

If she came for revenge Avhy did she not denounce him ? But 
no, she Avould hardly do that. What Avoman would? But she 
might have assumed toA\ r ard him a more hostile attitude. 

Finally, his masculine vanity helped him to a conclusion. A 
woman seldom forgets her first lo\ r e so easily, and he could meet 
her so differently iioav. She had not forgotten her love for him. 
He could win it back, and her forgi\ T eness with it. And then — 
then, if he could but manage Cora, Avhat A\ T ould hinder him from 


DAVLIX’s “ POINTS.” 


383 


marrying her, and being in clover ever after! He was tired of 
roving; they could go to the city; he need not give up gaming, 
and — he really loved the girl ; had loved her since the day she 
had escaped from his snare. 

Having arrived at this stage in his day-dream, he began to 
feel buoyant. And when he heard from the Professor the re- 
sult of Madeline’s visit to her step-father, his complacency was 
at high tide. 

“It's all in a nutshell to me,” said the Professor, as they 
smoked their confidential cigars in the privacy of Lucian’s own 
room. “ Mind, I don’t suppose she is up to our game ; she 
can’t be, you know ; but she is pretty thoroughly convinced that 
what she thinks is his insanity, is but temporary.” 

“ How do you know that?” interrupted Lucian, sharply. 

“Not from anything she said; I had very few words with her. 
But look here", Davlin, isn’t this a clear case enough? When 
I went up to see the old fool, after their interview, I find him 
in a paroxysm of rage. Of course he makes his complaint; his 
ravings informed me of this: She told him that she did not 
really think him very crazy herself, but two doctors did, and 
she didn’t feel called to dispute them. She told him that he 
could not prove himself sane in any court in America; and that 
he, being insane, was dead in law; and she was going to choose 
another guardian.” 

Lucian Davlin fairly bounded from the chair. “That’s it!” 
he ejaculated under his breath. 

“Then,” pursues the Professor, puffing away tranquilly, “she 
comes straight from this interview and meets me, to whom she 
says that, ‘It is a most deplorable and dangerous case; that he 
is really liable to attack me or Henry at any moment; that 1 
must take every precaution and guard against his sudden at- 


384 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


tack, even if I were forced to confine him still more closety ; 
and that she had suspected him of partial insanity long ago/ 
Now, what do you think of that?” 

Precisely what he thought it was not Mr. Davlin’s intention 
to tell. One idea, however, he expressed promptly enough: “I 
think,” he said, leaning a little forward and looking full at his 
companion, “ that you had better take the advice of Miss Payne. 
Confine him close, the closer the better; but don’t drug him any 
more at present !” 

The Professor nodded serenely as he said : “ Right, quite 
right. Just what I was about to suggest.” 

He might have added that he had resolved upon taking the 
course indicated, even if the suggestion had not been made. 
“ The young lady holds the winning cards,” he had assured 
himself. “I will take her orders before I get myself in too 
deep!” His “too deep” meant deep as the grave. 

And now Lucian had a new subject for conjecture. If Miss 
Payne proposed to appoint for herself a guardian, who would 
she select? Who had been caring for her during all these 
months? Was it man or woman? 

The only information she had volunteered had been implied 
rather than spoken. In answer to Miss Arthur’s rather abrupt 
query at the breakfast table, as to how she had managed to pros- 
per so well in a strange city where she had no friends, the girl 
had replied, with a little laugh : 

“I suppose it has never occurred to either yourself or Mr. 
Arthur that I might have found out some of my mother’s 
friends. I was put in possession of my mother’s journal on the 
very day that I ran away from Oakley, T am not so friendless 
as you may think.” 

Lucian was again puzzled, but knowing the girl as he did. he 


THE DAYS PASS BY. 


385 


was not prepared to believe that a guardian, in the form of a 
lover, would appear. He was now convinced that Cora, whom 
at first he had somewhat doubted, was not for some unknown 
reason attempting to deceive him. 

The Professor’s story had corroborated hers, and given him, 
as he expressed it, “ a fresh point” in his game. But alas for 
Lucian ! Every fancied discovery only beguiled him farther 
and farther from the truth, and rendered him more and more 
blind to the chains that were being forged about him. 


CHAPTER XLI. 

THE DAYS PASS BY. 

Several days passed and still Lucian Davlin had not found 
the much wished for opportunity to converse with Madeline. 
Neither had he been able to find Cora alone. Visit her room 
when he would, there was the burly waiting-maid. Finally 
Cora had warned him, with some asperity, that his “ actions 
looked rather suspicious,” and then lie obeyed her gentle hint 
and remained aloof. 

Two days after the bestowal of Strong, the maid, upon the 
not-too-grateful Cora, an angular, grenadier-looking female 
presented herself at the servants’ entrance, announcing that she 
was “ the new maid and she was installed as high priestess 
of Madeline’s apartments without loss of time. 

The servants below stairs made comments, as servants will. 
Even Miss Arthur, Percy, and Davlin agreed in calling the two 
maids, respectively, “ Grenadier” and “ Griffin.” 

25 


386 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


But only Cora knew that the two were better learned in the 
art of spying than in matters of the toilet. She knew herself 
to be under continual surveillance. Above stairs or below,, 
Madeline or Hagar, Strong or Joliffe were not far away. And 
yet she had not abandoned her plan of escaping. 

One morning, Cora, looking from the window of her dressing 
room, saw two men moving about in the grounds below. 
Upon commenting upon their presence there, Strong had an- 
swered, readily ; 

“Yes, madarne, Joliffe tells me that they are here to sink a 
well. Miss Payne has decided to have a fountain among those 
cedar trees, and they are to go to work immediately.” 

“But a well in winter! They can’t dig.” 

“They don’t dig; they bore. It’s to be a fountain, madame.” 

But in spite of the “ fountain” explanation, Cora knew that 
the house was guarded from without as well as from within. 

“It’s no use to warn Lucian, or anybody, now,” she thought. 
“ It would only get us all into worse trouble.” 

But still she did not abandon the thoughts of her own escape. 

And now began a time of trial for poor Ellen Arthur. . Made- 
line Payne, after studiously ignoring the two men for some days, 
began to unbend. She commenced by conversing with Percy, 
listening to his slow and stately sentences, smiling her approval, 
and completely captivating that susceptible gentleman. Then, 
by degrees, she drew Lucian into the conversation, and smiled 
upon and listened to him. 

All this Cora observed, wondering what the girl was trying 
to do; while the spinster looked on in untold agony, fearful lest 
this fair sorceress should avenge herself for some of her childish 
grievances by robbing her of her lover. 

Meanwhile Lucian Davlin interpreted all this in his own 


THE DAYS PASS BY. 


387 


favor. “She is proud and still resentful,” he thought. “And 
she is using Percy as a medium of approach to me.” 

At last Lucian, growing impatient, resorted to an old, old 
trick. He watched his opportunity, and one evening, as Made- 
line was following Cora from the drawing-room, the door of 
which he was holding open for their exit, he pushed into her 
hand a small scrap of paper. 

She would have dropped it; her first impulse was to do so, 
but Cora turned as her hand was about to loosen its clasp upon 
the fragment. So she passed on, carrying it with her to her 
own room. There she opened it and read these pencilled words : 

'For God’s sake do not torture me longer. You have condemned me 
without a hearing. Be as merciful as you are strong and lovely. At 
* least let me see you alone, when I can plead for myself. 

Half an hour later, Hagar tapped at his door. When he 
opened it, she put in his hand a bit of paper, on which were 
these faintly-pencilled lines: 

If you desire my friendship, you must date our acquaintance from this 
week. You never knew me in the past. 

“And she is right,” muttered he; “the Madeline Payne of 
last summer, and the Madeline Payne of now, are to each other 
as the chrysalis to the butterfly, in beauty ; as the kitten to the 
panther, in spirit; as the babe to the woman, in mind. That 
Madeline pleased me ; this one, I love.” 

So he accepted the position, and did not give up striving to 
draw from her some special word, or look, or tone, that he need 
not feel belonged as much to Percy as to himself. 

Meantime Percy was revolving various things in his -learned 
head. 


388 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


He had been, as a matter of course, deeply impressed with 
her beauty, and he had been much puzzled as well. 

Having witnessed her arrival, he had fully expected rebel- 
lion from Cora, for Cora was not the woman to be barred out 
from a prospective fortune and make no sign. But there was 
no war, and no indications of battle. Cora and the heiress were 
wonderfully friendly. Mr. Percy could not understand it. 

The manner of Havlin toward him had not changed in the 
least, remaining as studiously polite as when he was so cordially 
invited to take up his abode under the hospitable roof of 
Oakley. 

That of Cora was decidedly different. While before she ad- 
dressed him with a sort of conciliating courtesy, and had seemed 
desirous of furthering his plans and hastening on his marriage 
with Miss Arthur, she now manifested an almost contemptuous 
indifference, not only to himself, but to his fiance. 

True to her nature, Cora was gathering up what gleams of 
satisfaction she could. When she had become assured that it 
was not Percy who held possession of her stolen papers, and that 
the girl in whose hands they were was more his enemy than 
hers, she rejoiced in his discomfiture to come. Seeing that it 
was no longer necessary to propitiate her enemy, she indulged 
in the luxury of acting out her hatred, when she could without 
betraying to Davlin this change, which might require an ex- 
planation. 

That some sort of understanding existed between Miss Payne 
and Cora, Percy instantly surmised, and every day confirmed 
the belief. That Miss Payne held the power, he also believed. 
So believing, he began to wonder if it were not better to “be off 
with the old love,” and seek to win the heiress, for the vanity 
ot Mr. Percy inspired him to believe that it would not be a 


A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. 


389 


hopeless task. He had heard, however, of that person who, 
“ between two stools,” fell to the ground, and he was careful not 
to reveal to Miss Arthur the laxity of his affections. 

And so the days moved on. 

Percy dividing his attention between his fiance and Miss 
Payne; studying the latter, and closely watching Davlin and 
Cora. 

T1 lat last named lady smiling and lounging below stairs, 
sulking and smoking above, and always under surveillance. 

Davlin, having assured Cora that he was acting from motives 
politic, paying open- court to Madeline. 

That young lady calmly acting her part, thoroughly under- 
standing and heartily despising them all. 

John Arthur alternately raging and sulking, obdurately re- 
fusing to accede to his step-daughter’s terms, and vowing to es- 
cape and wreak vengeance upon every one of them. 

“ Dr. Le Guise,” calm as a Summer morning, and taking more 
real ease and comfort than all the others combined. 

Hagar watchful and anxious. 

The two new maids making themselves popular in the kitchen, 
and “ sleeping with their eyes open.” 

And still no clue by which Madeline and her efficient aides 
de camp could unravel the web of doubt that still clung about, 
and kept a prisoner, the long-suffering Philip Girard. 


CHAPTER XLII. 

A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. 

After some days of outward calm, came a ripple upon the 
surface of events. 


390 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


It had been a dull, cloudy day, with occasional gusts of wind 
and rain ; wind that chilled to the very marrow, and rain that 
froze as it fell. 

The three men, Davlin, Percy and the Professor, had been 
constrained to abandon their customary morning walk, with 
cigar accompaniment, up and down the terrace. And the well- 
borers had been obliged to stop their work. 

Mrs. Arthur had kept her room and her bed all day long, 
afflicted by a raging toothache. Strong was kept at her side, 
almost constantly applying hot water, laudanum and various 
other local applications. As the day advanced, the sufferer 
seemed growing worse; and when Madeline came in to admin- 
ister consolation, and see if the woman were really ill, Cora sent 
for Dr. Le Guise, vowing she would have the tooth out, and 
every other one in her head, if the pain did not stop. But when 
the Professor arrived, her courage failed her. She drew back 
at the sight of the formidable forceps, saying that she would 
“try and endure it a little longer; it seemed a bit easier just • 
then.” 

All this Madeline noted. Retiring from the room she sig- 
naled to Strong to follow her out. “ What do you think of 
her?” questioned Madeline of the latter, as the door closed be- 
tween them and Cora. 

Strong looked dubious. “ I really don’t know what to think, 
Miss Payne,” she said. “If it is shamming, it is the best I ever 
saw.” 

“True,” answered Madeline; “I am at a loss. You had 
better apply some test, Strong, and — keep all your medicines out 
of her reach. Don’t let her get any laudanum, or anything; 
and presently report to me. She must not be left alone, how- 
ever; when I send Joliffe in, do you come to me,” 


A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. 


391 


Madeline passed on to her own room, and Strong returned to 
her patient. 

When Joliffe went to her relief, Strong presented herself be- 
fore Madeline, saying: “ I can’t think she is shamming, Miss 
Payne. I suggested a mustard blister, and she never made a 
murmur. I put it on awful strong, and she declared that it was 
nothing to the pain. When I took it off her cheek was red as 
flannel, and she wanted it put on again. She says it relieves 
her, and thinks if the pain don’t come back she will sleep. I 
made sure of the bottles all the same,” added Strong. “ I have 
used a lot of chloroform on her, but of course some would evapo- 
rate.” And she held up to view a half-filled chloroform 
vial. 

She was right; full half an ounce had “evaporated,” during 
the brief minute when she had stood in the hall to confer with 
Madeline. 

Altogether, Strong had a hard day. 

Cora kept her continually on her feet. The blinds must be 
opened, and shut again, every fifteen minutes. The room was 
too hot, and the fire must be smothered. Then it was too cold, 
and the fire must be stimulated to a blaze. And no one could 
wait upon her but Strong. 

As night came on, the paroxysms of pain returned in full 
force, and Strong was implored once more to apply the soothing 
mustard. 

When Madeline looked in at ten o’clock, Cora was groaning 
i:i misery, and Strong was applying a blister. When she again 
looked in, an hour later, the invalid, with blistered face and 
fevered eyes, feebly declared herself a “trifle easier,” and Strong 
was bathing her head with eau de Cologne. 

Madeline soon retired to her room, and her couch. But for 


392 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


full half an hour longer, Cora kept the now yawning Strong at 
her side. Then she said : 

“Go now and get some rest, Strong. Leave the mustard on 
my face, and then I think I can sleep. I am getting drowsy 
now.” 

Strong replaced the mustard, and raked up the fire. Then 
she looked carefully to the fastenings of the doors, and returned 
to the bedside. Already her mistress was in a heavy slumber. 

Putting in her pocket the keys of both doors, Strong retired 
to the dressing-room and, loosening her garments, threw herself 
down wearily upon a couch, and was soon sleeping the sleep of 
the just, and breathing heavily. 

For some moments after the loud breathing told that her maid 
was asleep, Cora lay quietly, but with eyes wide open. Then 
she stirred, making a slight noise, but the heavy breathing con- 
tinued as before. 

Cora now raised herself up on her elbow and again listened. 
Still the heavy breathing. Again she moved audibly, at the 
same time calling softly: “Strong!” 

But Strong slumbered on. 

Quickly snatching the bandages from her much enduring face, 
Cora sprang lightly from the bed. Taking something from 
under her pillows, she stole noiselessly into the dressing-room 
and up to the couch of the sleeping Strong. In another instant 
there was a pungent odor in the room, and something white and 
moist lay over the musical proboscis of the slumbering giantess. 

In five minutes more, Cora Arthur stood arrayed in a dark 
traveling suit, with a pair of walking-boots in one hand, and 
the key of her chamber door in the other. Swiftly and silently 
as a professional house-breaker, she opened the door and passed 
out, closing it quietly behind her. 


A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. 


393 


Like a shadow she glided down the now unlighted stairway, 
and through the dark and silent hall, in the direction of the 
dining-room. Turning to the left, she paused before a side door, 
the very door through which Madeline had escaped on a certain 
eventful June night, and noiselessly undid the fastenings. In 
another moment she was outside, and the door had closed behind 
her. 

She drew a long breath of relief, and sat down to put on her 
shoes. Her escape was well timed ; the train for the city, the 
midnight express, was due in twenty minutes. Strong would 
hardly waken before that time, and then — she would be flying 
across the country at the heels of the iron horse. 

Rising to her feet, she took one step in the darkness — only 
one. Then a light suddenly flashed before her eyes, a heavy 
hand grasped her arm, and a gruff voice said : “ This is a bad 
night for ladies to be abroad. You had better go back, ma’am !” 

Cora made a desperate effort to free herself, but the hand held 
her as in a vise, and the bull’s eye of the dark lantern flashed 
in her face as the speaker continued : 

“Yes, you are the identical one I am looking for. Got a 
red face — toothache didn’t make you a trifle lightheaded, did 
it? Come, turn about, quick !” 

And Cora knew that Madeline Payne had not been as blind 
as she had seemed. It was useless to struggle, useless to protest. 
The strong hand pushed her toward the entrance. The man 
gripped the lantern in his teeth, while he opened the door, and 
pushing her through , followed after. Closing the door again, and 
never once releasing his hold upon her, he forced her unwilling 
feet to retrace their steps, saying, as they ascended the stairs: 

“Show the way to your own room, if you don’t want me to 
rouse the house.” 


394 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Quivering with rage, Cora pointed to the door, and was im- 
mediately ushered, with more force than politeness, back into 
her own dressing-room and the presence of her still insensible 
maid. 

“Now, then,” said her tormentor, “ where is Miss Payne’s 
room? No nonsense, mind; I’m not a flat.” 

Cora, thoroughly convinced of the truth of this statement, 
sullenly directed him to Madeline’s door. 

“Stand where you are,” was the next command of the man; 
“it might jar your tooth to move.” 

And Cora stood where he had left her, while he aroused Miss 
Payne and communicated to her the news of the night’s exploit. 

In a very few moments Joliffe appeared, and without so much 
as casting a glance at Cora, set herself to arouse the stupefied 
Strong — a feat which was soon accomplished, for the woman had* 
nearly exhausted the effects of her sleeping potion. A moment 
later, and Madeline appeared upon the threshold. After sur- 
veying the scene in silence for an instant, she entered the room, 
closed the door, and said with a laugh that set Cora’s blood 
boiling: “So you were tired of our society, and fancied that you 
could outwit me? Undeceive yourself, madame; it is not in 
your power to escape from my hands, and whatever fate I choose 
to adjudge you.” 

Then turning to the man, she said: “You have done well, 
Morris; this kind of work you will find more profitable than 
well-boring. You may go now.” 

The man bowed respectfully, and silently quitted the room. 

Then Madeline addressed Joliffe: “You will stay here the re- 
mainder of the night. Let Strong sleep; she is not to blame 
for permitting her charge to escape, and she will be more wary 
in future.” 



“This is a bad night for ladies to be abroad!”— page 393. 

395 






396 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Then turning again to Cora, who had flung herself in a chair 
and sat gazing from one to the other in sullen silence, she said, 
with a smile on her lips: “ You should not work against your 
own interests, Mrs. Arthur. Had you succeeded in escaping on 
the midnight express, who, think you, would have been sum- 
moned to meet you on your arrival in the city?” 

“ Doubtless an officer,” replied the woman, doggedly. “ I 
might have known you for a sleuth hound who would guard 
every avenue. 

“ Thanks; you do me honor. I should not have summoned 
an officer, however; there is some one else waiting anxiously to 
welcome you there.” 

“ I ndeed,” sarcast ical ly ; “ who ?” 

“ Old Verage.” 

Cora started up in her chair. “ For God’s sake, what are 
you ?” 

“ A witch,” said the girl, demurely. “I am as old as the 
world, and cau fly through the air on a broomstick, so don’t think 
to escape me again, step-mamma. I trust you will enjoy your 
brief repose, for it will soon be morning, and if I don’t see 
your fair face at the breakfast table, I shall not be content.” 

Cora put two fingers to her blistered cheek, saying: “You 
can’t ask me to come down with this face.” 

“ True, I can’t. Good-night, step-mamma ; it would have 
been better if you had let the doctor pull that tooth.” 

And Miss Payne swept away, leaving the would-be fugitive 
to her own reflections. 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


397 


CHAPTER XLHI. 

THE DOCTOR’S WOOING. 

Mrs. Ralston had become to Olive Girard as one of the family. 
There was a strange affinity between the two women, who had 
known so much of sorrow, so many dark, dark days. As yet, 
however, there was not entire confidence. Mrs. Ralston knew 
nothing of the movements then on foot to liberate the husband 
of her hostess ; and Olive knew no more of Mrs. Ralston’s past 
than had been communicated by Claire, which was in reality but 
very little. 

Dr. Vaughan had become an ardent admirer of the grave, 
sweet, pale lady, who had, in her turn, conceived a very earnest 
admiration for him. 

Always a close student of the human countenance, Mrs. 
Ralston had not been long in reading in the face of the young 
man his regard for Claire Keith. Having discovered this, she 
studied him still more attentively, coming, at last, to the conclu- 
sion that he was worthy of her beloved Claire. 

But Claire appeared ever under a strange restraint in the 
presence of Dr. Vaughan. She seemed always to endeavor to 
keep either her sister or her friend at her side, as if she found 
herself more at ease while in their proximity. Evidently she 
was keeping close guard over herself. And just as evidently she 
was glad to be in the presence of Clarence V aughan when sup- 
ported by her sister and friend, and safe from a tete-a-tete. 

Mrs. Ralston was really troubled by this apparent misunder- 
standing, or whatever it might be, that rendered Claire less 


398 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


cordial towards Dr. Vaughan than she would have been to one 
who was only a friend, and far less worthy of friendship. She 
mentally resolved, when a fitting opportunity should occur, to 
endeavor to win the confidence of the girl, for she saw that two 
natures, formed to love each other, were drifting apart, with no 
prospect of a better understanding. And that opportunity came 
sooner than she had expected. 

One day, a day destined to be always remembered by the 
chief actors in our strange drama, Mrs. Ralston seated herself 
at a davenport in Mrs. Girard’s pretty library to write a letter 
to Mr. Lord. The promptness and energy of that good man 
had completely baffled the acute detective, and the danger which 
Mrs. Ralston had so much feared, the danger of being dis- 
covered by her worthless husband, was now past. 

She had entered the library through the drawing-room and, 
both rooms being untenanted, had left the door of communica- 
tion between them half open. 

Sitting thus, she heard the door of the drawing-room open, 
and the rustle of feminine garments betokened the entrance of 
one of her friends. Presently soft ripples of music fell upon 
her ear, and she knew that it was Claire who was now at the 
piano, playing dreamily, softly, as if half fearful of awakening 
some beloved sleeper. 

After a few moments, the ripple changed to a plaintive minor 
accompaniment, that had in it an undertone as of far-off winds 
and waves. Then the full, clear voice of the girl rang out in 
that most beautiful of songs, which alone should make famous 
the genius of Jean Ingelow and Virginie Gabriel : 

“ When sparrows build and the leaves break forth, 

My old sorrow wakes and cries.” 


THE DOCTOR^ WOOING. 


399 


The singer sang on, all unconscious that two listeners were 
noting the passion and pain in her voice: 

“How could I tell I could love thee to-day, 

* When that day I held not dear? 

How could I know I should love thee, away, 

When I did not love thee near?” 

As the last note died away in sorrowful vibrations, Mrs. 
Ralston, in the library, was conscious of tears trickling down 
her cheek. 

At the same moment there was a discordant crash among the 
piano keys, and Claire’s voice was saying, almost angrily : “Dr. 
Vaughan! how came you here? How dared you — " 

There was a suspicious tremor in her voice, and she stopped 
speaking, as if too proud to show how very much she had been 
thrown off her guard. 

“ Forgive me, Miss Keith," the deep voice of Clarence Vaughan 
responded. “Believe me, I did not intend my presence as an 
impertinence. Your servant admitted me, and I thought it not 
wrong to enter unannounced, although I hardly hoped to find 
you alone. Surely you do not blame me for my silence while 
you sang ?" 

Claire made no reply. She was strongly tempted to fly and 
let Clarence Vaughan think what he would. But before she 
could stir, he had moved a step nearer and was looking straight 
down in her eyes. 

“Claire," he said, in tones of reverential tenderness, “ I have 
waited for the time to come when I might say to you what you 
must let me say now. You have seemed to avoid me of late; I 
can not guess why. And to-day, as I listened fo your song, a 
new thought, a new fear, has entered my mind. Claire, tell me, 


400 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


have you read the love that has been in my heart since I first 
saw your face, and have you sought to shun me because you love 
another?” 

While he was uttering this speech, Claire Keith had regained 
her self-command, and her answer now came low and clear : 
“Dr. Vaughan, you have not guessed aright. I have not 
avoided you because I love another.” 

“ Claire, nature did not make you an actress. There was love 
in your voice when you sang that song !” 

“ Thank you,” coolly ; “ I have been taught to sing with ex- 
pression.” 

“ Claire, Claire Keith, I beg you answer me truly ; do you 
really dislike me? You say you do not love another; could 
you learn to love me?” 

No answer. 

“Tell me, Claire, do you not know how deeply I love you?” 

Silence. 

“ Claire, Claire, speak to me. End this suspense. Will you 
not try to love me?” 

She moved away from him, and avoiding his eyes, answered 
in an odd, hard voice: “No, Dr. Vaughan, I will not try to 
love you.” 

His next words were uttered almost tremulously. “Ah! I 
understand. I have displeased you; tell me how.” 

“You have never displeased me. You are goodness itself. 
Let me pass, Doctor Vaughan ; I must not listen to you.” 

“ Must not ? Then you do avoid me 

“Yes,” almost inaudibly. 

“Why?” stepping before her and cutting off her retreat. 

“ I won’t tell you. Yes, I will, too. Oh, how blind you arel 
How can you love me when — when there is some one better, 


THE DOCTOR’S WOOING. 


401 


better a thousand times, and braver, too. Some one whose life 
needs your love, because it has been so loveless always. I won’t 
love you. I won’t listen to you. If you want me to be your 
friend, make the life that is giving its best to others, as happy 
as it deserves to be. And — don’t ever talk — like this — to me 
again.” 

Before he could open his lips, or put out a hand to detain her, 
she had rushed from the room. 

Clarence Vaughan gazed after the flying form in speechless 
grief and amazement. Then flinging himself into a chair, he 
bowed his head upon his hands in sorrowful meditation. Sit- 
ting thus he did not perceive the approach of some one, who 
laid a hand lightly upon his bowed head, murmuring: “Blind! 
blind ! blind !” 

Starting up, he saw the face of Mrs. Ralston bending toward 
him and wearing an expression of mingled compassion and 
amusement. 

“Forgive me,” she said, her countenance resuming its usual 
gravity. “I was in the library, and heard all. I listened will- 
fully, too, for I have been observing you and Claire, and I want 
to help you.” 

Clarence dropped disconsolately back in his chair. “ If you * 
have heard all,” he said, “you know that it is useless to try to 
help me.” 

Mrs. Ralston laughed outright. “If you were not blind 
you would not need my help,” she said. “As it is, you do.” 

“Mrs. Ralston, what do you mean?” 

“I mean that your battle is half won. If you will explain 
to me one half her words, I will explain to you the other half.” 

“You are laughing at me.” he said, wearily. “What can 
you explain ?” 

26 „ ' 


402 


MADELINE PAYNE* 


“That ridiculous girl commanded you to bestow your love 
upon some more worthy object; some one who was living for 
others; or some such words. Whom did she mean, may I ask ?” 

He started up as if inspired by a new thought. “ I see !” he 
exclaimed; “She must have meant — a very dear friend of hers.” 

He could not say the name that was in his thought. It would 
sound like egotism. 

“That is sufficient,” said the lady. “Now, I am going to be- 
tray Claire, as she has betrayed this other one. You foolish 
fellow, can’t you see that the child loves you and is striving to 
do a Quixotic thing by giving you up to her friend? Think 
over her words and manner, and don’t take her at her bidding. 
If this other, to whom Claire commands you to turn, is a 
true woman, she would not thank you for the offer of a preoccu- 
pied heart.” 

“ She is a true woman,” said Clarence, emphatically. “ And 
as dear to me as a sister could be, but — ” 

“ Then let her be a sister still,” said Mrs. Ralston, quietly. 
“ And don’t lose any time in persuading Claire that she is 
wronging herself as well as you ; and that you would be 
wronging still more this friend whom you both love, were you 
to offer her so pitiful a thing as a hand without a heart. She 
is a true woman, you say. If so, she would never forgive that. 
Believe me, Hr. Vaughan, there are even worse depths of sor- 
row than to have loved worthily — and lost.” 

Mrs. Ralston turned and went softly from the room. 

For a few moments, Clarence Vaughan stood wrapped in 
thought. Then his face became illuminated as he said, half 
aloud : “ What a fool I have been, that I should have so mis- 
understood that dear girl ! Oh, I can be patient now, and bide 
my time.” 


A FRESH COMPLICATION. 


403 


And now his reverie was broken in upon by Olive, who en- 
tered hurriedly, saying: “ Doctor Vaughan, are you here alone? 
I thought Claire was with you.” 

He made no answer to this remark, but said, jas he took her 
proffered hand : “ I ran down to' tell you that I have taken the 
detectives off. Jarvis is still in our pay, in case of emergency. 
He has sent his report to Davlin, and a scant one it was. Of 
course, Davlin is glad to have him withdraw ; that is, if 
he knows, as he must, that the papers are not in Percy’s 
hands.” 

“ Then all depends upon Madeline now ?” 

“All depends upon Madeline.” 

“ Poor Philip,” sighed Olive, “ what would he say if he 
knew that his fate rests in the hands of a mere girl ?” 

“ If he knew of that ‘ mere girl’ what we know, he would say 
that his fate could not rest in better hands. No man ever 
had a more efficient champion, nor one half so brave and 
beautiful.” 

They had not dared to tell Philip of the hope that was daily 
growing stronger in their hearts; if they failed, he should be 
thrust back into no gulf of black darkness because they had 
cheated him with a false hope. 


CHAPTER XLIV. 

A FRESH COMPLICATION. 

On leaving so abruptly the companionship of Dr. Vaughan, 
Claire rushed straight to her room. Closing and locking the 


404 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


door, she flung herself down upon a couch and indulged in a 
hearty cry. She was at once happy and sorry, angry and pleased. 
Presently, Claire sat up and began to review things more 
calmly. 

“ What a wretched little dunce I am!” she soliloquized. 
“ And what must he think of me! Well!” with a little sigh, 
“ the worse his opinion of me, the better for Madeline. And 
here I am this minute, in spite of myself, actually rejoicing in 
my heart because he has not done the very thing I have resolved 
that he should do. But he never will know it. Neither shall 
any one else. I won’t give him another chance to talk to me ; 
no, not if I have to take to my heels ten times a day. It’s only 
right that I should give him up; I, indeed, who fancied myself 
in love with a white-handed, yellow-haired villain.” 

At this point in her meditations, some one rapped softly at her 
door. 

“Claire, dear,” said a soft voice, “open your door; I want to 
come in.” 

It was Mrs. Ralston, and Claire advanced slowly and turned 
the key in the lock. 

“I — I thought it was somebody else,” she said, hypocritically. 
“Come in, Mrs. Ralston.” 

Thus invited, the lady entered. Without making a comment 
on the disturbed appearance of her young friend, she crossed to 
the window, and sitting down in a cosy dressing-chair, said : 
“ Come directly here, young lady, and sit down on that ottoman.” 

Looking somewhat surprised, the girl obeyed. 

“ Claire, my child, I have a confession to make. I was in 
the library while you sang: ‘When sparrows build/ ” 

The girl’s cheek flushed and then paled ; but she made no 
answer. 


A FRESH COMPLICATION . 


405 


“And,” pursued Mrs. Ralston, “ I heard more than your song.” 

No reply. 

“And more than your words !” 

“More than — my — my words?” 

“Yes; I heard your heart’s secret.” 

Claire’s face drooped. “What do you mean?” she asked, 
deprecatingly. 

“ My darling, I mean that your heart spoke through your 
voice, and it belied your words. Why did you deny your love 
for so noble a man?” 

Claire raised her head. “I didn’t!” she said, suddenly, as if 
driven to bay. 

“ No,” smiled Mrs. Ralston. “You were a wily little serpent. 
But you deceived him.” 

“ I don’t care,” doggedly. 

“Now you are telling a fib!” 

“ Well, I am not sorry, then,” getting hold of her monitor’s 
hand. “Why do you turn against poor me, when I am trying 
to do my duty ?” 

“Because you are not doing your duty.” 

“Yes, I am; indeed, I am. You don’t know.” 

“Then tell me, and let me be your friend and adviser.” 

“But you can’t advise,” objected Claire, “ because you don’t 
know the — the other one.” 

'“Well, I do know you.” 

“There it is!” burst forth the champion of the absent. “You 
know me, but you don’t know what a worthless, unattractive 
little imp I am compared to her. You don’t know her, but you 
shall ! And when you do, poor me will have to take a seat 
lower down in the tabernacle of your affections.” 

“I wonder if this ‘other’ would so readily resign her lover to 
you ?” she said. 


40(1 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Would she!” flashed Claire. “ Would she not f Hon she 
not? Ah, if you knew her, you would never say that!” Then 
suddenly capturing the other hand of the lady, she said, in 
quieter but very grave tones: “Can you listen to a long story, 
Mrs. Ralston; rather to several stories combined in one? I air 
going to tell you what I h iv3 so much wanted you to know— 
the story of Madeline Payne.” 

Mrs. Ralston expressed her more than willingness to hear all 
that Claire had to tell, and the girl settled down comfortably on 
the ottoman at the feet of her friend, and began at the begin- 
ning. It was indeed a long story, for Claire omitted noth- 
ing. As she told how Madeline had exposed to her the base- 
ness of Percy, Mrs. Ralston started up, her face pale as death, 
and then sank back in her chair. 

“Percy!” she cried. “What — what is his other name?” 

Claire stared at her in amazement. “What is it, Mrs. Ralston 
— you are ill?” 

“No,” almost gasped the lady; “tell me — his name.” 

“I did not intend to speak his name,” Claire said, slowly. 
“It is Edward Percy.” " 

Mrs. Ralston was on her feet in an instant, her face flushing 
with excitement. “Come with me!” she almost shrieked. 
“Quick ! to my room.” 

Wondering vaguely, Claire followed. 

Mrs. Ralston almost flew to her apartment. She flung open 
the door, and in an instant was on her knees beside a trunk, 
opening trays and searching for something eagerly. 

“Look!” she cried, suddenly thrusting out something toward 
Claire ; something from which she averted her own face. “ Look, 
did you ever see that face?” 

The girl gave one glance and uttered a sharp cry. It was a 


A FRESH COMPLICATION. 


407 


miniature painted on ivory; painted years ago, but she knew it 
only too well. 

Mrs. Ralston regained her feet, trembling so that she could 
scarcely stand. 

“ Where did you get it?” cried Claire. “ It is he; Edward 
Percy !” 

Mrs. Ralston started forward and took the picture from her 
hand. “It is my husband /” she whispered. 

With the words on her lips, she fell heavily to the floor, in a 
dead faint. 

When Mrs. Ralston awoke to consciousness, she was lying 
upon her bed, with Dr. Vaughan bending over her, Olive stand- 
ing near, and Claire a little aloof, looking jiale and anxious. 
Her first thought was of the picture. 

“ Where is it?” she murmured, addressing Claire, who stepped 
forward eagerly. 

“It is here, dear Mrs. Ralston,” said Claire. “I caught it 
from your hand after you fell. I thought — ” And then she 
hesitated. 

“I understand,” she said, looking at the girl fixedly. “Drop 
it from your hand, Claire; drop it there” pointing to the 
grate. “It has done its work; we need never look upon it 
again.” 

Claire obeyed her silently. For the second time she had con- 
signed to the flames the pictured face of Edward Percy. 

To the surprise of the three who had so lately seen her com- 
ing slowly back from the swoon, so like death, Mrs. Ralston 
raised herself to a sitting posture, and then slowly arose from 
the bed and stood upright before them, and there was a flush on 
her cheek, and a light in her eyes that was new to that usually 
pale, sad face. 


4.08 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Dear friends/’ she said, turning toward Clarence and Olive, 
who had been watching the burning of the picture with surprised 
and somewhat curious eyes, “ I am quite recovered ; and I want 
to think. Wm you please leave me alone, quite alone, for a 
little while?” , * 

Olive, Claire and Clarence went slowly and silently down to 
the drawing-room, Claire keeping very -close to her sister and 
carefully avoiding the eyes of the young man. Seating herself 
beside Olive, Claire told, in her own way, all that she knew of 
the affair. 

“ I wanted to tell Mrs. Ralston of Madeline,” she commenced, 
“and, not to omit anything, I told her poor Philip’s story, — 
all about the two men, and how the man, Percy, had appeared 
at Oakley as the lover of Miss Arthur. When I spoke his name, 
she ran to her room, almost dragging me with her, and — ” 

Suddenly she paused, horrified at a sudden thought. How 
could she explain to these two, who knew nothing of her “ affair” 
with Edward Percy — who did not dream that she had ever seen 
his face — her ability to recognize the picture Mrs. Ralston had 
shown her ? 

“And?” interrogated Olive. 

Clarence Vaughan saw that there was a reason for her hesi- 
tation, and while wondering what it could be, came to her res- 
cue. “And fainted, of course,” said he. “Well, she is better 
now, and perhaps we shall hear the conclusion of the mystery 
all in good time.” 

If she had dared, Claire would have given him a glance of 
gratitude. As it was, she only averted her face and felt herself 
a great hypocrite. 

Doctor Vaughan was to remain for lunch ; and while he talked 
quietly with Olive, Claire sat considering what they would say 


mrs. ralston’s story. 


409 


if they knew all. Presently her reverie was interrupted by the 
entrance of a servant, who said : 

“Mrs. Ralston wishes Miss Keith to come to her.” 

Claire started up, and without a word to either her lover or 
her sister, hurried into the presence of her friend. 

Mrs. Ralston advanced to meet the girl as she entered the 
room, and laying a hand upon her shoulder, said : “ I understood 
you to say that your sister knows nothing of your acquaintance 
with that man. Am I right? 

“ Yes.” 

“ And you do not wish her to know?” 

Claire hesitated. “ I did not then think it was wrong to con- 
ceal it from her,” she said, finally; “but now, if you think it 
best, I will try and tell her.” 

“But I do not think it best, my darling. I should have been 
convinced of his identity even had I not used the picture as a 
test. We will say nothing on that subject. And now, let us go 
down-stairs, for we have work to do!” 

So saying, she led the way from the room and Claire followed, 
wondering how all this was to end. 


CHAPTER XLV. 
mrs. Ralston’s story. 

Mrs. Ralston entered the drawing-room with the light of a 
new and strong purpose shining in her eyes. 

“ Dear friends,” she said, “sit near me and give me your at- 
tention. I have a story to tell, and I must not fatigue myself 
too much in the telling.” 


410 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Without a word, Clarence moved forward an easy chair. As 
she seated herself, they all grouped about her with grave, ex- 
pectant faces. 

“ 1 will make brief mention of myself,” said the lady, sinking 
back in the luxurious chair with a slightly weary smile. “My 
life has never been a bright one. Married for the first time at 
the age of sixteen, my childhood was prematurely blighted, and 
my first real trouble fell upon me. It was not a happy marriage, 
and during the years of my first husband’s life, I became more 
and more alienated from my relatives. 

“ When at last my husband died, I was thirty-six years old, 
and owing to ill-health, looked much older. But — I was 
wealthy. Then I met a man, younger than myself, and very 
handsome. I was weak and foolish. I believed in him and — 
married him. For four years he squandered my money and 
made my life a burden. At last, when I could endure no longer, 
and when, because he had inherited a fortune from some relative, 
I knew he would trouble himself little as to particulars, I caused 
him to believe me dead and buried. 

“In reality I was in better health than usual, and while he 
was spending his new fortune and fancying me in the grave, 
I sailed for Europe. Before I departed, however, I saw him 
once more, myself unseen. It is this part of my story that will 
make your hearts glad.” 

She paused for a moment, and her three listeners gazed into 
each other’s faces in silent wonder. 

“I was going to Europe in company with some friends of 
Mrs. Lord who, of course, knew mv secret. They twice post- 
poned their time for sailing, and while waiting for them I went 
with my maid to a little mountain inn where travelers only came 
for, a day, and then went on up the mountain. 


411 


mrs. ralston’s story. 

“"When I first arrived, the garrulous hostess made frequent 
mention of a hunting party that had gone up the mountain a 
few days before, stopping for dinner at the inn. I had been 
nearly two weeks in my mountain retreat when my maid came 
rushing in, one day, crying out that the hunting party had come 
back, and that one of their number had been badly hurt. 

“Well, they brought the wounded man up-stairs, and put him 
in the room that adjoined my sleeping apartment. The parti- 
tions between were of the sham kind — merely boards papered 
over. After he was settled, and the hum of many voices died 
away, I went into my little bed-room. 

“I had scarcely entered when a voice from the next room, a 4 * 
man's voice, deep and full, although then subdued, startled me. 

I listened unthinkingly. ‘ There’s no use in being weak about 
this business,’ he said. ‘Of course, you can make me trouble if 
you like, but hang me, Percy, I can’t see how it will benefit 
you.’ 

“I see you are amazed, Doctor Vaughan, and Mrs. Girard is 
turning pale. You are beginning to guess the truth. Yes, it 
was Edward Percy who answered the first speaker, and — Ed- 
ward Percy is my husband.” 

Again she paused for a moment. One could have heard a 
pin drop, so breathlessly eager, so silent, were her listeners. No 
one stirred or spoke, and she soon resumed : 

“At the first sound of the other voice, I sank down sick with 
fear lest the man should, in some way, find me out. Sitting 
there, I heard him sav, in the half fretful, wholly languid tones 
that I knew so well, ‘It’s easy to talk as you do; show me 
wherein it will be to my advantage, if you don’t want me to 
knock down your pretty story. Curse you, what did you try 
to murder me for f 


412 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Then the other answered impatiently : ‘ I tell you, man, I was 
mistaken. I took you for him. JNow listen : Neither you nor 
I love the fellow, and we each hold a. trifle of power over the 
other. You can refute my statement, if you like, and accuse 
me of attacking you. In that case I may be imprisoned; but 
that won’t keep you above water long. If I am arrested for 
assault with intent to kill, you will soon find yourself in the 
next cell, accused of the still more serious crime of bigamy. 
On the other hand, if you let the matter rest as it is, and let 
him take his chances, I won’t use those little documents I hold, 
which prove conclusively that you married a second wife while 
♦ the first was living. Come, what do you say?’ 

“I remember their very words; not one syllable escaped me 
then, or has drifted from my mind since. And I could have 
predicted what the next words of my husband would be. I 
know his weakness so well, and I knew, too, then, for the first 
time, that my vague suspicions had been too true — that he had 
indeed been false to me, more than false. 

“ ‘I will do this,’ said he, halting at every few* words. ‘ If 
you will give me back the money you w r on from me up there, 
and will give me up those papers, we will not quarrel over this 
affair. We will let His Majesty take the consequences of your 
act, if you choose. I like him even less than I do you. But 
the money I must have.’ 

u The other replied : 1 I’ll do it.’ Then the money was counted 
out and the ‘ papers’ changed hands. 

“ While they talked, I was seized with an unaccountable de- 
sire to see the man I had once loved. I heard my maid mov- 
ing in the next room, and I arose and went to her. She was a 
quick-witted creature, and knew just what to do. She made me 
put on a hat and veil, and throw a shawl about me- and then 


mrs. ralston’s story. 


413 


bade me go down-stairs, while she knocked at the door of the 
sick-room. When I heard it open I was to come up, and while 
she made a pretense of offering her services in case of need, I 
could obtain, over her shoulder, a view of the occupants of the 
room. Her ruse was successful. When I ascended the stairs, 
I obtained a full view of the two men. I should know the 
dark face of the tall stranger if I came upon it in Africa. 

“To do myself justice, I never once thought of the. wrong 
they were doing their victim ; never realized that it was my 
duty to denounce them. Having seen the face of my husband 
I had but one idea, one desire ; to get away, any whei* , the 
farther the better. 

“ Early the next morning, I was en route to the city, and 
there, to my infinite relief I found my friends ready to sail. 
When at last I was actually on the ocean, and realized that I was 
safe from discovery, I began to think of the victim whose name 
I had not heard. But it was too late then, and I tried to ease 
my conscience by thinking that, after all, as Edward was not dan- 
gerously hurt, it might not turn out a serious matter. I watched 
the papers, but somehow the accounts of the trial all missed me.” 

As she ceased speaking, her eyes rested sadly upon the face 
of Olive, and she started forward suddenly, saying: “Doctor, 
she is going to faint !” 

“No,” gasped Olive, half-rising, “I, I — ” 

And she fell forward to be caught in the ready arms of Clarence 
Vaughan. When at last they succeeded in arousing her from 
that death-like stupor, and she could sit up and look about her, 
slowly recalling events, Mrs. Ralston stepped readily into the 
position of leader, and turning to Claire, said: 

“Go and see that lunch is served immediately, dear. We 
have much to do before night, and must not work fasting.” 


414 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Oh,” cried Olive, as Claire disappeared, “is this true? 
Will Philip be released at last, released with every doubt cleared 
away, every suspicion removed? Tell me, I cannot realize it.” 

“It is true, dear Mrs. Girard ; and now you must not give 
way to weakness. We dare not lose time. Dr. Vaughan, your- 
self, and I, in putting these facts in the hands of the right 
parties, must hasten the legal process by which Philip will be 
released.” 

When Claire Keith returned, she found them deep in a dis- 
cussion as to the quickest way of effecting the release of Philip 
Girard. 

“Let me settle it,” she said, imperiously. “To-day you will 
go to see Philip’s lawyers, and when this stupid law process is 
put in motion, Olive — I know her — will go straight and set her- 
self down outside the very prison gates. But your beautiful 
laws can lock an honest man up much quicker than they can let 
him out, and can serve a warrant sooner than do a tardy act of 
justice. So, if you please, I am going down to Oakley to arrest 
that vile Lucian Davlin, and get him off poor Madeline’s 
hands.” 

“You !” cried the two ladies in the same breath. 

“Yes, I! Philip won’t want anyone but Olive, and Olive will 
snub me unmercifully if I ventnre to offer myself as an escort. 
I’m going to do myself the honor of seeing Mr. Davlin ar- 
rested.” 

“Claire is right,” said Mrs. Ralston; “the man must be ar- 
rested immediately.” 

“And,” interrupted Olive, “you must all three go to Bellair; 
that is,” looking at Mrs. Ralston, “if — ■”* 

“If I will go?” interrupted that lady. ' “ Yes, I, too, intend 
to be present when Miss Payne gives her enemy up to justice,” 





“No 1” gasped Olive, half rising; “ I — I—”— page 418. 

415 




416 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“Are you in earnest about going to Bellair, Miss Keith ?” 
Clarence Vaughan asked. “Shall you go, really?” 

Claire bestowed upon him a willful little nod over her shoulder, 
saying, as she did so: “I shall, ‘ really.’ I am confident that 
something will happen there, and I want a chance to faint !” 


CHAPTER XLVI. 

CORA “STIRS UP THE ANIMALS.” 

It was evening — the evening of the day on which Mrs. 
Ralston had made her startling revelation. Madeline Payne 
stood alone in her own room, looking moodily out upon the 
leafless grove that was fast taking on a covering of snow. 

The storm that had been impending Tor days, had broken at 
last. For two hours the snow had been falling thickly, steadily, 
in great feather-like flakes, which quickly covered the brown 
earth, and clothed the naked treetops with a fair, white garment. 

Madeline had been standing, motionless and moody, for many 
minutes. Her eyes were full of dissatisfaction, and her lips 
were compressed. She had been taking a mental review of the 
situation, and its present aspect was far from pleasing. 

“What a knot,” she soliloquized ; “what a difficult, baffling, 
miserable knot! To be kept thus inactive just because the last 
knot in the tangle will not come straight — good gracious, how 
like a pun that sounds! How much longer must I smile upon 
these wretches ? How much longer must I conceal my real 
feelings? I will put my forces into action, and make my last, 
desperate venture, for this is becoming intolerable. I must force, 


CORA “ STIRS UP THE ANIMALS.” 


417 


or buy, this secret from Edward Percy, at the cost of his safety, 
or my fortune, if need be.” 

She pressed her face against the frosted pane, peering down 
through the gathering night and the snow. 

“Mercy!” she ejaculated, “who on earth can be plowing 
through this storm? And on what errand? It looks like — 
and, as I live, it is, yes, it is, Mr. Edward Percy ! He is too 
dainty to expose himself for nothing. I must look into this.” 

While she was musing at the window, Cora, curled up behind 
one of the crimson curtains of the red parlor, had become the 
possessor of a valuable secret. 

She had entered the room but a few moments before. Find- 
ing it dimly lighted, and heated to a Summer temperature, she 
ensconced herself a la Sultana in one of the deep window em- 
brasures, and lay sulkily watching the flying snowflakes and the 
fast coming night. Presently the sound of approaching foot- 
steps, and almost simultaneously the opening of the door, dis- 
turbed her quiet. With a quick movement, she drew the cur- 
tains together and sat, a silent listener, to a brief dialogue. 

The new comers were Miss Arthur and Edward Percy. After 
a few sentences had been interchanged, Percy left the room, and 
then it was that Madeline saw him take his way toward the 
village. 

Presently Miss Arthur also quitted the room ; and going 
straight up-stairs, Cora knocked at Madeline’s door. “ Now, 
then,” muttered she, “ I’ll stir up the animals.” 

Madeline did not look especially gratified at sight of her 
visitor, but Cora entered with scant ceremony. Pushing the 
door shut with unnecessary emphasis, she turned upon her, say- 
ing, rather ungraciously: ' 

“ I have made a discovery of which, I think, you will thank 

27 


418 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


me for telling you. And I am going to tell you because I can’t 
spoil their plans, but you can, and I want to see them spoiled.” 

“ Your frankness is commendable,” said Madeline, ironically. 
“Go on !” 

“ Percy and the old maid are going to Be privately married to- 
morrow morning.” 

“ How do you know ?” 

Cora related the particulars of her ambush, and gave a con- 
cise report of the conversation of the lovers; 

“ He has gone to the village on that very business now,” Cora 
said. “She is to walk down to the clergyman’s house, and he 
is to meet her there. Then they will come back, and no one to 
be the wiser.” 

Madeline laughed. “ Be at ease,” she said. “I will try and 
prevent the necessity for such a disagreeable walk as that would 
be for so fragile a lady. We won’t have a wedding just yet.” 

“What a cool one you are!” cried Cora. “If you were not 
my enemy, I could admire you vastly.” 

“Don’t, I beg of you,” said the girl, gravely. “I am 
sufficiently humiliated by being obliged to deal with you as an 
enemy.” 

Cora flushed angrily. “Then I should think the humilia- 
tion of being made love to by my brother, would overcome you,” 
she sneered. 

“It does, almost,” replied the girl, wearily. 

“Then let me do you another favor. Mr. Davlin is no more 
my brother than he is yours.” 

Madeline’s answer fairly took her breath away. “Madame, 
you are very good, but I have known that from the first.” 

“What!” gasped the woman; adding, after a moment of 
silence, “ Is he your lover as well as — ” 


419 


CORA “ STIRS UP THE ANIMALS.” 

* Yours?” finished Madeline. “And what then, Mrs. 
Arthur ?” 

“Then,” hissed Cora; “then, I hate you both.” 

Madeline laughed bitterly. “As you have told me a secret, 
and as I don’t want to remain in your debt, I will tell you one 
in return. Lucian Davlin is my lover, but I am his bitterest 
foe!” 

Cora came closer and looked her eagerly in the face. “ What 
has he done to you?” she asked, breathlessly. 

“ You may find out later ; just now we are even. Understand, 
no word of warning to him, if you value your safety. Obey my 
wishes, and when I am done with you, you may go free. At- 
tempt any treachery, and I will give you up to justice.” 

“I shan’t put myself in jeopardy for him now, whatever I 
might have done. You may believe that.” 

“ I think I may,” replied Madeline, dryly. 

When Cora retired to her own room, to chuckle over the dis- 
comfiture in store for the spinster and Mr. Percy, and to wonder 
wrathfully what the mystery concerning Miss Payne and Lucian 
could mean, Madeline stood for many minutes lost in thought. 

Finally she threw herself down upon a couch, uttering a half 
sigh, and looking utterly weary and perplexed. A moment 
later, Joliffe entered noiselessly, as usual, and the girl said to 
her: 

“When Miss Arthur retires for the night, which won’t be for 
some time, do you see Mr. Percy when he is alone , mind, and 
tell him Miss Payne desires him to wait her pleasure in the 
library.” 

Joliffe bowed and went out again like a cat. 

When, at last, the other members of that incongruous family 
circle were safely out of the way, Madeline, warned by the ever- 


420 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


present, soundless Joliffe, awaited in the library the coming of 
Mr. Percy. 

Wondering much what the haughty heiress could have to 
communicate to him, and dimly hoping that the tide was turn- 
ing in his favor, Mr. Percy entered the presence of the arbiter of 
his fate. Bowing like a courtier, he approached her. 

“ Miss Payne has deigned to honor me with an interview,” 
he said, in his slowest, softest, most irresistible manner. “I can 
never be sufficiently grateful.” 

Madeline motioned him to a seat opposite her own, saying, 
with an odd smile: “You shall, at least, have an opportunity 
for repaying your debt of gratitude, sir, and that immediately.” 

Percy took the seat indicated and bowed gravely. “Com- 
mand me, Miss Payne.” 

“ It rests with you,” Madeline began, “ whether we shall be 
from to night neutral toward each other, or enemies.” 

“ Enemies !” he exclaimed. “Oh, that would be impossible.” 

Madeline was full of inward rage. She longed to lean across 
the table and dash her hand full in that smiling blonde face. 
But she looked at him instead quite tranquilly, and said, with 
a queer smile : “ Then you would do me a favor, even at your 
own personal — inconvenience, Mr. Percy?” 

“Would I not?” fervently. “Only command me, Miss 
Payne.” 

“I will take you at your word, then. Mr. Percy, you will 
oblige me very much by putting off your marriage with Miss 
Arthur one week longer.” 

Here was a bomb-shell. It electrified the languid gentleman, 
He became suddenly animated by fear. “ What — what do you 
mean, Miss Payne?” starting half out of his seat and nervously 
sitting down again. 


CORA “ STIRS UP THE ANTMALS.” 421 

u Precisely what I say, sir. It does not please me to have 
my relative leave my house to he married in this clandestine 
manner. There, don’t ask me how I discovered what you 
thought was a profound secret. You see I did discover it. 
Will you put off this romantic marriage — to oblige me?” 

Percy was trying very hard to think. If he could believe it 
was because he had found favor in her eyes, that she asked this. 
But no ; even his vanity could not credit that suggestion. Of 
late she had openly shown a preference for Davlin. What, then, 
could be her motive? Could it be that at the instigation of Cora 
she had sought this interview? 

He rallied his forces and replied : “ Miss Payne, you have taken 
me by storm. If I may not ask how you made this discovery, 
may I not, at least, beg to know why you make this demand?” 

“ I have told you ; it shocks my sense of propriety.” 

“ Pardon me if I say there must be another motive.” 

“You are pardoned,” coolly; “ now, do you grant my re- 
quest?” 

Percy arose from the table flushed and angry. “ Pardon me, 
Miss Payne, you demand too much.” 

“ Nevertheless, I do demand it.” 

“And I beg to decline.” 

“ Then I must deal with Miss Arthur. The knowledge that 
you have one wife in the grave, and another under this very 
roof, may have the desired effect upon her” 

Percy dropped back in his chair, pale as ashes. All was lost, 
then. Cora had betrayed him! But he resolved not to com- 
mit himself. Perhaps Madeline had only verbal information. 
While he was trying to frame a speech, however, she knocked 
this last prop from under him. 

“ I may as well assure you that parleying is useless. I have 


422 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


known, from the first moment you entered this house, just upon 
what terms you stood with Mrs. Arthur. Don’t trouble your- 
self to ask how I know. Perhaps you have been puzzled to 
know why Mrs. Arthur and her brother so suddenly became 
cordial and invited you to Oakley, where you so much desired 
to be. Let me enlighten you. They fancied that you had re- 
gained possession of important documents — two marriage certi- 
ficates, in fact — for they had lost them.” 

“What?” ejaculated Percy. 

“And — I found them,” added Madeline. 

His countenance fell again. 

“They are in my possession,” pursued she. “Shall I show 
them to Miss Arthur, or not?” 

“It can’t make much difference now,” said the man, sullenly. 

“ Let us understand each other fully,” said Madeline. “I am 
not acting in concert with Cora Arthur. She is even more in 
my power than you are. I have no desire to undeceive Miss 
Arthur. Neither do I wish you to leave Oakley. On the con- 
trary, I want you here; you can be of service to me, by and by. 
And I pledge you my word that so long as you remain under 
this roof, those papers shall hot be used against you.” 

“ And if I don’t choose to remain ?” 

Madeline laughed. “Then you must take the consequences,” 
she said, carelessly. 

“And what will they be?” 

“Exposure and arrest.” 

Percy drew pen, ink, and paper toward him. “What shall I 
write to the clergyman ?” he asked, sullenly. 

“Whatever you choo§e. And I will send it. Make your 
peace with Miss Arthur, too, in your own way.” 

“ And when I leave Oakley, what then ?” he grunted. 


THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 


423 


•'Then, if you have fulfilled the conditions, I will burn the 
papers in your presence, and you are free henceforth.” 

“ There is the note,” he said, flinging it toward her as soon 
as written. “ After all, I may as well be in your power as in 
hers,” and again he arose to go from the room. 

“ I am glad you take so sensible a view of it,” retorted she, 
lookmg up from her perusal of his note. “Good-night, Mr. 
Percy.” 

And thus cavalierly dismissed, Mr. Percy bowed, somewhat 
less gallantly than when entering, and left the room. 

“ Sc, that is nipped in the bud,” soliloquized Madeline, as she 
went wearily to her own room once more. “ When will this 
miserable complication unravel itself, or be unraveled?” 

Little did she dream how soon she would receive an answer 
to this question. 


CHAPTER XLYH. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 

The next morning dawned clear and beautiful. Over head, 
one unbroken expanse of blue; under foot, a mantle of soft, 
white ermine. All the trees were transformed into fairy-like, 
silver-robed, pearl-studded, plume-adorned wonders. Diamonds 
floated in the air, and sunbeams lighted up the whole with daz- 
zling brilliancy. Everything was white, pure, wonderful, and 
the whole enclosed in a monster chrysolite ; earth, air, and sky, 
were shut within a radiant sphere that had never an outlet. 

Madeline had passed an almost sleepless night. But when 
she arose, with the first gleam of sunlight, and looked upon this 


424 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


new, white, imprisoned world, she felt strong for a fresh day’s 
battle. 

“I must go out,” she said to herself; “ out into this sparkling 
air. I can breathe in the brightness ; I know I can. I almost 
feel as if I could catch it, and weave it into my life.” 

She hastily donned her wraps and set olf for a brisk walk, no 
matter where, through that glorious Winter glow. 

Under the snow-laden arms of the grand old trees, out of the 
grounds of Oakley. Before she realized it she was half way 
down the path leading to the village. 

Something that jarred upon her sense of the beautiful, awak- 
ened her to herself, and she turned suddenly about. 

“How dare ugly little brown bears come out in the white 
glitter,” she muttered, whimsically. “I will turn about; he 
spoils the fairy picture. I had forgotton there were boys, or 
men, in the world.” 

Something came panting behind her. The “brown bear” had 
accelerated his pace, and now came up at a round trot. 

“Hold on a minit; darned if I can see who ye air in this 
snow,” he cried, pausing before her and rubbing his eyes vigor- 
ously. “All right; I thought it was you,” he added, alter con- 
siderable blinking. “I’ve got a tellygram for ye, Miss Payne; 
orders were not to give it to anyone but you, so [ chased ye 
sharp.” 

Madeline laughed outright as she took the telegram from his 
hand. The boy, without waiting for her words of thanks, took 
to his heels, shouting back over his shoulder: “No answer!” 

Madeline gazed for a moment after the flying figure, and 
wonderingly opened the message. This is what she read: 

Be at H ’s to-night when evening train comes dowr». Weare ready 

for action ; have found a witness. C. Y. 


THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 


425 


Madeline lifted her eyes from the scrap of paper and looked 
about her incredulously, as if she expected to find some expla- 
nation shining in the air. 

“ Ready for action/’ she murmured. “That means — can it 
mean that Lucian Davlin is at last in our power? Can those 
detectives have solved the mystery ? Oh ! how can I wait until 
night !” 

She fairly flew along now, eager to keep in motion. On, on 
she went, over the stile, through the glittering white-robed grove ; 
on, until she reached Hagar’s cottage. It was locked and desert- 
ed, as she knew, but she cared not for that. She must walk 
somewhere, then why not here ? 

For a moment she stood on the snow-laden door stone, and 
gazed about her. Then swiftly, as swiftly as before, she flew 
down the path — the same path she had taken on the Summer 
day when she had heard from Hagar’s lips her mother’s story. 
When she reached the tree in whose arms she had nestled so 
often, where she had listened to the bargain between her step- 
father and decrepit old Amos Adams, and where she had been 
wooed by Lucian Davlin — she paused. There, coming toward 
her, was Lucian Davlin himself. 

“What a fatality!” muttered the girl. “He is coming to 
meet me; has been watching me, perhaps.” 

She stood calmly gazing up at the snow-laden branches, and 
again she saw herself standing underneath them, a hesitating 
girl, wondering if she could let her lover go away alone. Then 
she turned her head and her eyes met those of Lucian Davlin. 

“Good morning, Miss Payne,” he said, lifting his hat with 
his usual grace. # “ I am happy to know that we have one taste 
in common-— a love of nature in this disguise. Is not the wintry 
world beautiful ?” 


426 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ Beautiful, indeed,” replied Madeline, resuming her walk 
homeward. “The trees are fairy palaces. It is lovelier than 
Summer, is it not?” 

“ It is very lovely,” gazing not at the trees but down into her 
face, “ but — so cold.” 

She understood his meaning and replied, calmly : “ Cold ? 
Yes; it is not Summer.” 

“ No,” he assented, with a sad intonation, “ it is not Summer. 
Miss Payne, Madeline, will it ever- be Summer again?” 

Madeline looked up and about her, and smiled as she did so. 
“Yes,” she replied, “ it will be Summer — soon.” 

He had turned and retraced his steps at her side. She was 
walking swiftly again, and for some time neither spoke. When 
they entered the grounds of the manor, he said, half deprecat- 
ingly : 

“Madeline, may I ask this one question?” 

“Yes,” quietly. 

“ I saw you pause under that tree and look about you,” he 
said, slowly ; “ was it because you thought of other days, and 
of me?” 

Slowly she turned her face toward him, saying, simply : “Yes.” 

They were nearing the entrance, and he half stopped to ask 
his next question. “Will you tell me what were your thoughts, 
Madeline?” 

Slowly she ascended the steps, and at the door turned and 
faced him: “I will tell you to-night.” 

And with a ripple of laughter on her lips, she entered the hall 
of Oakley. 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


427 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 

THE SWORD OF FATE. 

Evening at Oakley. 

At last the long day was done : the day that to Madeline 
Payne had seemed almost endless. At last, too, the early even- 
ing hours had dragged themselves away, and the time of her 
triumph was at hand. 

From out Hagar’s cottage a silent party issued, and took their 
way across the snow to the little stile just above the terrace walk. 
Here they paused for a moment. Some one was loitering on 
the terrace, where the shadows fell thickest. Madeline stepped 
through the gap, saying softly: Jolifife 1’^ 

Immediately the form emerged from the shadow. It was the 
cat-like waiting-maid. 

"IPs all right, Miss,” she said, in a whisper. “They are all 
in the drawing-room, but I think they are getting uneasy.” 

“Well, I will not keep them in suspense long,” said Madeline, 
and in the darkness she smiled triumphantly. “Lead on, 
Joliffe.” 

Silently they moved on, and paused again at the side entrance; 
the one from which Cora had endeavored to escape but a short 
time before. Madeline opened the door, and in another moment 
she, with Mrs. Ralston, Claire Keith, Clarence Vaughan and 
two strangers, stood within the walls of Oakley. 

They moved on like shadows to the rear end of the hall, up 
the servant’s stairway, and straight to the west wing, Evi- 


428 


MADELINE PAYNE, 


dently they were expected here too, for in obedience to a light 
tap, the door opened, and they passed quietly within the outer 
room of John Arthur’s prison suite. 

“Close the door, Henry,” said Madeline. 

This being done, she turned and surveyed her comrades. 

“ So far, good,” she pronounced. “Now, can you make your- 
selves comfortable here for a little while? Hagar and Joliffe 
will know just what to do as soon as I have, myself, viewed the 
field of battle ; or perhaps I had better pilot you in person.” 

“As you please,” said the foremost of the strangers. “I 
think we understand each other.” 

“Then we won’t lose time,” said Madeline. “Henry, call 
Dr. Le Guise.” 

Henry tapped at the door of the inner room, and in a trice 
the worthy Professor stood in their midst. He glanced from 
one to another in amazement, and the look of confidence forsook 
his face. He had not been prepared to see these strangers, and 
his first thought was, of course, for his own safety. 

“Have no uneasiness, sir,” said Madeline, seeing the fear in 
his face; “these ladies and gentlemen will not interfere with 
you. They are here because it is desirable that the people below 
should not know of their proximity just yet. You are about 
to aid us, and need have no fear for yourself.” 

The Professor drew a breath of relief. 

While this conversation was going on, Mrs. Ralston and 
Claire had removed their wraps, as if they knew quite well what 
they were about, which, indeed, they did. Now, as Madeline 
did likewise, preparatory to entering the room of the prisoner, 
they seated themselves, looking grave, but perfectly composed. 
Dr. Vaughan said a few quiet words to Henry, and the two 
strangers stood “at ease,” looking as indifferent as statues. 


THE SWORD OF FATE. 


429 


Entering the inner room, in company with the Professor, 
Madeline found John Arthur pacing restlessly up and down. 

“ I wish you to go down-stairs with us for a few moments,” 
said Madeline. “It is- to your own interest to do so. It is the 
easiest and surest way of imparting to you what you must know, 
and, when you know all, I shall be your jailer no longer. It 
shall then remain for you to decide whether you will accept my 
terms, and end your days with at least a semblance of honor, or 
whether you will remain here to be pointed at as a man dis- 
graced and dishonored, and deservedly so. When you have seen 
justice done to those who have wronged you more than they 
have me, for little as I desire to serve you circumstances have 
constituted me your avenger — you will be free to act as you may 
see fit.” 

With this she turned and abruptly quitted the room, leaving 
John Arthur fairly stunned by her words, yet utterly unable to 
comprehend their full meaning. Returning to the ante-room, 
Madeline found Hagar awaiting her. 

“ Well, Hagar,” said the girl, “ we are ready to go down ; is 
the library lighted ?” 

“Yes, Miss Madeline.” 

“And the door leading to the drawing-room?” 

“ Is closed, Miss.” 

“Then go down, Hagar; open the library door, and leave it 
open. Move the fire screen opposite the door leading to the 
drawing-room. When we are all within the library turn out 
the light. That is all.” 

Hagar moved away to do her bidding, smiling grimly. 

Time was dragging, in the drawing-room. 

Cora was there, not from choice, but because Madeline had so 


430 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


ordered it, and the aggrieved lady was not at all inclined to con- 
versation. 

Miss Arthur, who was hoping for a tete-a-tete with her lover, 
was alarmingly glum. She had accepted, in good faith, his 
statement that he had received a note from the clergyman, say- 
ing that he had been suddenly called away and would be absent 
some days, but she did not quite understand why another would 
not do as well. Somehow, all that day, she had found no op- 
portunity for hinting to her lover that a Unitarian minister 
lived quite near. 

Finding the ladies so little disposed to be entertained, the 
two men retired within themselves, each after his own peculiar 
fashion. 

Lucian Davlin lounged, in his favorite manner, in a big arm 
chair, and absorbed himself in the mazes of “Lcilla Rookh,” 

Percy, seated sidewise on a sofa directly opposite a large 
mirror, gazed languidly at his own reflected image, and furtively 
at the two women opposite, stroking his handsome blonde 
whiskers the while. 

At last Miss Arthur broke the silence by saying, with a side 
glance toward Cora: “ There is one thing that I have not yet 
asked to be enlightened about. Perhaps you could explain the 
mystery, Mrs. Arthur? I mean the appearance of Madeline at 
my bedside not long ago — or her ghost.” 

Cora uttered a disagreeable laugh, and then replied: “How 
should I be able to explain? I am not the keeper of Miss Payne, 
or ‘ her ghost/ ” 

“ Probably not ; however, you are so friendly, so sisterly, I 
might say, that I thought perhaps — ” 

“You thought perhaps my step-mamma was in the secret?” 
said the voice of a new comer. 


THE SWORD OF FATE. 


431 


All eyes were turned toward the library, where Madeline 
Payne stood, clad in a walking dress, and looking fairly radiant 
with suppressed excitement. 

“ You misjudge my step-mamma, Aunt Ellen.” As she speaks, 
Madeline advances toward the silent group, leaving the library 
door ajar. “ I will explain that singular phenomenon. I in- 
tend to clear up all the mysteries to-night — here — now. First, 
then, about the ghost: It was I, Miss Arthur, Madeline Payne, 
in the flesh.” 

Lucian Davlin’s book lies on his knee neglected now. 

Edward Percy’s face has lost its look of languor. 

Cora is flushing red and then paling, while she wonders in- 
wardly if her time has come ; if she is to be exposed to a last 
humiliation. 

“We will settle another point,” continues Madeline, imper- 
turbably, while she rests one arm upon a cushioned chair back, 
and looks coolly from one to another. “Some of you have felt 
sufficient interest in me to wonder why I sent home, to my sor- 
rowing friends, the false statement of my death. I will explain 
that. When I left home it was with wrath in my heart, and 
on my lips the vow that I wonld come back and with power in 
my hands. I had wrongs to avenge, and I swore to be mistress 
of my own, and to bring home to a bad man the heart-ache and 
bitterness he had measured out to another. Well, I did not 
know just how this was to be accomplished, but Providence, or 
fate, showed me the way. Then I saw the necessity for com- 
ing back to Oakley, and to pave the way for my new advent, 
I sent Nurse Hagar with the false account of my death. A girl 
had died in the hospital — a poor, heart-broken, homeless, friend- 
less, wronged, little, unfortunate, — ‘ Kitty the Dancer’ she was 
called in the days when she was fair to see, and men, bad men, 
set snares for her feet.” 


432 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


What ails Lucian Davlin? He is compressing his lips, and 
struggling hard for an appearance of composure. 

Madeline goes calmly on. “The poor girl died forlorn. She 
had been wooed by a vile man, a gambler. She had been to 
meet him and was returning from a rendezvous when the car- 
riage that was conveying her to her poor lodging was over- 
turned, and she was taken up a helpless, bleeding mass, and car- 
ried to the hospital. Then she sent for this heartless villain, 
again and again. She implored him to come to her, at least to 
send assistance, for she was destitute — a pauper. He refused, 
this thing, unworthy the name of man. He was setting other 
snares. He had no time, no pity, for his dying victim. Well, 
she died, and was buried as Madeline Payne, while I, standing 
beside her coffin, prayed to God to make my head wise, and my 
heart strong, that I might hunt down, and drive out from the 
haunts of men, her soulless destroyer.” 

Madeline pauses, and three pair of eyes gaze at her with 
genuine wonder. But the eyes of Lucian Davlin are fixed upon 
vacancy, and with all the might of his powerful will he is strug- 
gling to appear calm. 

Madeline turns her eyes calmly from his face to Cora’s, and 
seems to see nothing of this, as she resumes : 

“Some strange fatality had made this man the bane of other 
lives, that were to be brought into contact with mine. I found 
that the happiness of two noble beings was being wrecked by 
this same.fnan. One of these two had been my benefactor, had 
saved me from a fate worse than death, so I set myself to hunt 
this man down. And here I found that I could accomplish 
two objects at one stroke. I found that the man was playing 
into my hands. I followed him in disguise. Little by little 
I gained the knowledge ot his secrets, enough to send him to 


THE SWORD OF FATE. 


433 


State’s prison, and more than enough. But one thing was want- 
ing. For that I waited ; for that I breathed the same air with 
creatures whom my soul loathed, and now that one missing link 
is supplied. At last, I am free! At last, I can throw off the 
mask ! At last, I can say to the destroyer of poor Kitty, to the 
man who swore away the liberty of another to screen himself — 
Lucian Davlin, I have hunted you down ! I have held you 
hereto be taken like a rat in a trap! Officers, seize him! 
He has been my prisoner long enough !” 

Was it a transformation scene? 

While she is uttering those last words, suddenly the room be* 
comes full of people, and Lucian Davlin is writhing in the grasp 
of the two officers; struggling hopelessly, baffled completely, 
maddened with rage and shame. When at last he has ceased to 
struggle, because resistance is so utterly useless, he turns his 
now glaring eyes upon the brave girl whose life he had sought 
to wreck, and hisses: 

“ Don’t forget to mention how you first came to the conclusion 
that I had wronged you ! Don’t forget to state that you ran 
away from Bellair with me; that you lodged in my bachelor 
quarters; that — ” 

A heavy hand comes in forcible contact with the sneering 
mouth, as one of the officers says, gruffly: “None o’ that, my 
lad. I’d sooner gag you than not, if you give me another 
chance.” 

But Madeline answers him with a scornful laugh: “That I 
shot you in your own den ? Coward ! do you think my friends 
do not know all ? Here stands the man who saw me in your 
company that night,” pointing to Clarence. Vaughan; “and 
here,” turning to Claire, “is the sister of the woman who came 
to me, at Dr* Vaughan’s request, and told me who and what you 

28 


434 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


were! It was these two who nursed me during my illness, and 
who have been, from first to last, my friends. Bah ! man, you 
have been only a dupe. Your servant, your doctor, your de- 
tectives, are all in my service! I have fooled you to the top of 
your bent, and kept you under this roof until we had found the 
proof that it was you, and not Philip Girard, Avho struck this 
man,” pointing to Percy, “and robbf \ him, five years ago.” 

With a muttered curse, Lucian Davlin flings himself down in 
the seat he had lately occupied, the watchful officers, pistol in 
hand, standing on either side of him. 

Edward Percy, for the first time since her entrance, withdraws 
his eyes from Madeline’s face and casts a frightened glance about 
him. Having done this, he feels anything but reassured. 

Near the outer door stand the two “well -diggers,” who have 
entered like spirits, and now look as if, for the first time since 
their advent in Oakley, they feel quite at home. Nearest to 
Madeline stands Clarence Vaughan. Back of these, a little in 
the shadow, two others — two women. One stands with her face 
turned away, and he can only tell that the form draped in the 
rich India shawl is tall and graceful. But the other — she 
moves out from the shadow and her eyes meet his full. 

Great heavens ! it is Claire Keith ! 

He moves restlessly, his fair face flushing and paling. The 
first impulse of his coward heart is flight. But the two “ well- 
diggers” are not surmountable obstacles. He turns his face again 
toward the Nemesis who is now gazing scornfully at him. 

“ I have no intention of neglecting any one of you four,” she 
says, icily. “ Edward Percy, I told you last night that I would 
burn certain papers in your presence. I am quite ready to keep 
my word. There will be no use for them after to-night. But 
I shall not stifle the testimony of living witnesses against you.” 


TIIE SWORD OP FATE. 


435 


Then she raised her voice slightly. “ Dr. Le Guise, bring in 
your patient.” 

John Arthur, pallid with fear and rage, stands upon the 
threshold of the drawing-room, closely attended by the Professor 
and Henry. 

Then Madeline turned to the now terror-stricken Cora. 
“Come forward, Mrs. John Arthur,” she says, scornfully. 
“ It is time to let you speak !” 

When Edward Percy turns his eyes toward Claire, she has in- 
stinctively moved nearer to Madeline’s side, at the same time 
favoring him with a look so fraught with contempt that the villain 
lowers his eyes, and turns away his face. As Madeline now ad- 
dresses the fair adventuress, Claire again moves. She has been 
standing directly between Cora and her Nemesis: Now she 
takes up a position quite apart from her friends, and near the 
officer who guards Lucian Davlin on the right. 

Cora sees that all is lost. But she recalls the promises of 
safety given her by Madeline, and nerves herself for a last at- 
tempt at cool insolence. Her quick wits have taken in the 
situation. Now she understands why Madeline has led Davlin 
on, and why her hatred of him is so intense. Now she knows 
the meaning of the words that last night seemed so mysterious: 
“Lucian Davlin is my lover, but I am his bitterest foe.” Now, 
as she steps forward, the hate she feels shining in her eyes, and 
with a growing air of reckless bravado as she glances at him, 
Cora, too, is Lucian Davlin’s bitter foe. 

“ Cora !” The name comes from the lips of John Arthur, al- 
most in a cry. 

But she never once glances toward him. She fixes her eyes 
upon Madeline’s face and doggedly awaits her command. 

“ Tell in what you know of this man,” Madeline says, point- 
ing to Edward Percy; “and be brief.” 


436 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Cora turns her e) T es slowly upon the man. She surveys him 
with infinite insolence, and then she turns with wonderful cool- 
ness toward Ellen Arthur. 

“ Miss Arthur/’ she says, with a malicious gleam in her eyes, 
“ this will interest you. I knew that man ten years ago. I 
was making my first venture out in the world, and it was a very 
bad one. I fell in love with his pretty face, and married him. 
Before long I discovered that matrimony was a mania of Mr. 
Percy’s — by-the-by, he sailed under another name then. 1 found 
that he had another wife living; a woman he had married for 
her money. Well, being sensitive, I took offense, and after a 
little, I ran away from him, carrying with me the certificates of 
his two marriages, which I had taken some pains to get posses- 
sion of. After that — ” 

Cora pauses suddenly and glances toward Madeline. 

“ After that you went to Europe. You may pass over the 
foreign tour, and take up the story five years later,” subjoins 
Madeline, coldly. 

“ After that, I went to Europe,” echoes Cora. “And five years 
later found me in Gotham.” 

“ Be explicit now, please: no omissions,” commands Made- 
line. 

“Five years ago, then,” resumes Cora, “ that gentleman there,” 
motioning to Davlin, but never turning her face toward him, 
“came to me one day with the information that my dear husband 
was a rich man, thanks to some deceased old relative, and that 
his other wife was dead. For some reason this other marriage 
had been kept very secret, and my friend there argued that in 
case anything happened to Percy, I might come in as his widow, 
and claim his fortune. Well, Mr. Percy did not die, more’s the 
pity. Instead of that he lived and squandered his money in less 


THE SWORD OF FATE. 


437 


than three years. He was hurt, somehow, and a certain Mr. Phil ip 
Girard was falsely accused and convicted for attempted murder.” 

“Who was the real would-be assassin?” asked Madeline, 
sternly. 

“ Lucian Davlin,” emphatically. 

Madeline turns swiftly to Percy. “Mr. Percy, explain, if 
you wish to lighten your own burden, by what means did that 
man persuade you to let him go free?” 

“By — threatening me with an action for — ” 

“ Bigamy !” finished Cora. 

The villain, bereft of all hope and courage, stood white and 
trembling, under the eyes of his accusers and judges. 

“I am letting these people hear you tell these things because 
I want that man,” — pointing to John Arthur, who had long 
since collapsed into a big chair — “to hear all this from your own 
lips,” says Madeline. 

Turning again to Cora, she says: 

“ Lucian Davlin made use of the papers — the certificates you 
had stolen from Edward Percy — to intimidate that gentleman, 
and secure himself from danger. Am I correct?” 

“ Yes,” replies Cora, casting a malignant glance from one to 
the other of the accused men. 

“ Y ery good . N o w we will pass on four or more years. Y ou 
were in some little trouble last June, Mrs. Arthur. Explain 
how you came to Bellair.” 

“How?” 

“Yes, for what purpose. And at whose instigation.” 

Cora hesitated, and Davlin moved uneasily. 

“ Don’t think that you will damage your cause by making a 
full statement,” suggested Miss Payne, meaningly. “Answer 
my questions, please.” 


438 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Again Cora glances at Davlin. Then turning toward Made- 
line she assumes an air of defiant recklessness, and answers the 
questions promptly. “I came at Lucian Da vl in’s suggestion, 
and because he had induced me to think that I could easily be- 
come — what I am.” 

“And that is — ” 

“Mrs. Arthur, of Oakley!” with a mocking laugh. 

The old man in the chair utters a loud groan, but no one 
heeds him. All eyes are fixed upon Madeline and Cora. 

“You plotted to become John Arthur’s wife?” pursues Made- 
line, relentlessly. 

“Yes.” 

“And — his widow?” 

Yo reply. 

“You planned to keep him a prisoner?” 

“Yes.” 

“And Lucian Davlin, your pretended brother, was your ac- 
complice?” 

“Yes.” 

Madeline turns swiftly toward her step-father, as she does 
so moving nearer toward Edward Percy. 

“John Arthur, are you satisfied?” she asks, sternly. “Shall 
the knowledge of your disgrace go beyond this room? Do you 
choose to remain here and be pointed at by every boor in Oakley, 
as the man who married an adventuress, a gambler’s accomplice? 
or will you accept my terms?” 

John Arthur lifts his head, then staggers to his feet. “Curse 
you !” he cries. “ Curse you all ! What proof have I that these 
people will respect my feelings?” 

“You have my word,” replies the girl, coolly. “These gen- 
tlemen of the Secret Service are not given to gossip. Mr. Dav- 


THE SWORD OF FATE. 


439 


lin will have but little opportunity for circulating scandal where 
he is going. Mr. Percy, and your wife, will hardly remain in 
the neighborhood long enough to injure you here, unless by your 
own choice. Your sister will scarcely betray you, and the 
rest are my friends. Choose!” 

Pallid with rage and shame, the old man turned toward Cora. 

“ You she-devil!” he screams, “this is your work — ” 

“No,” interposes Madeline, calmly, “it is your work, John 
Arthur! What you have sown, you are reaping. Will you 
have all your guilty past, your shameful present, made known? 
Or will you leave my mother’s home and mine, and cease to 
usurp my rights? Choose!” 

Every eye is turned upon the old man and his questioner. 
Every ear is intently listening for his answer. 

Every ear, do we say? No; one man is only feigning rapt 
attention ; one mind is turning over wicked possibilities, while 
the others await, with different degrees of eagerness or curiosity, 
John Arthur’s answer. 

“Needs must when the devil drives,” says the baffled old 
man, turning toward the door. “ I will go, and I leave my 
curse behind me!” 

This is the moment which Lucian Davlin has watched. 
While all eyes are turned toward John Arthur, he bends sud- 
denly forward. He has wrenched the pistol from one of his 
guardians, and the weapon is aimed at Madeline’s heart! 

Instantaneously there is a quick, panther-like spring, and 
Claire Keith’s little hand strikes the arm that directs the deadly 
weapon. There is a sharp report, but the direction of the bullet 
is changed. 

Madeline Payne stands erect and startled, while Edward 
Percy falls to the floor, the blood gushing from a wound in his 


440 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


breast. In another instant, Lucian Davlin lies prostrate, felled 
by a blow from one detective, while the other bends over him 
and savagely adjusts a pair of manacles. 

The others, even to Cora, group themselves about the wounded 
man. Dr. Vaughan kneels beside him a moment, then he 
lifts his eyes to meet those of Madeline. 

“It is a death wound,” he says. 

“ Prepare a couch in the next room directly. He must not 
be carried up-stairs.” 

When this order has been obeyed, and the injured man has 
been removed, Madeline returns to the drawing-room, unten- 
anted now save by the officers and their prisoner. They are 
waiting there until the midnight train shall be due, and the 
time approaches. . Moving quite near to the now silent, sullen 
villain, the girl surveys him with absolute loathing. 

“The goddess you worship has deserted you, Lucian Davlin,” 
she says, slowly. “It was not in the book of chance that you 
should triumph over or outwit me. The bullet you designed for 
me has completed the work you began five years ago. Go, to 
live a convict, or die on the scaffold, and when you think upon 
the failure of your villainous schemes, remember that this retribu- 
tion has been wrought by a woman’s hand! Officers, take him 
away !” 

Through the darkness they hurry him, from the sights 
and scenes of Oakley and Bellair — forever. His goddess has 
indeed forsaken him. When the two officers take leave of 
him at the prison, he has had his last glimpse of the outside 
world. 

From the moment when he failed in his attempt upon the life 
that had defied him, no word had escaped his lips. Silent, moody, 
and utterly hopeless, this proud-spirited, evil-hearted Son of 



“Edward Percy lulls to the floor, the blood gushing from a wound iu the 
breast 1” — page 4o9. 


441 


442 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Chance, enters the prison gates, and, as they close upon him, we 
have done with Lucian Davlin, a convict for life ! 


CHAPTER XLIX. 

AS THE FOOL DIETH. 

Edward Percy is dying — was dying when they lifted him 
from the drawing-room carpet, and gently laid him on the couch 
hastily prepared by Hagar and the frightened servants. They 
have watched beside him through the night, and now, in the 
gray of the morning, Clarence Vaughan still keeps his vigil. 

The wounded man moves feebly, and turns his fast dimming 
eyes toward the watcher. “I though t-^-I saw — some one,” he 
says, brokenly, “when — I fell. Who — was — the lady?” 

His voice dies away, as Clarence, bending over him, answers 
gently: “You mean the lady that stood near the door, whose 
face was turned away ?” 

“Yes,” in a whisper; “ was it — my — wife?” 

Clarence turns toward the window where Mrs. Ralston sits, 
out of view of the sick man. 

She moves forward a little. “ Tell him,” she says, in a low 
voice. 

Edward Percy is a dying man, but his mind was never clearer. 
He perfectly comprehends the explanations made by Clarence. 
He had recognized the face of his wife when he lay bleeding at 
her feet. He closes his eyes and is silent for some moments. 
Then he asks, in that dying half-whisper, the only tone he ever 
will use: “You think — I — will — die?” 

“You cannot live,” replies Clerence, gravely. 


AS THE FOOL DIETH. 


443 


Again the wounded man shuts his eyes and thinks; then: 
“How long — will I — last?” he questions. 

“ I can keep you alive twenty-four hours — not longer,” says 
Clarence, after a pause. 

“Then — I must talk now.” 

Clarence goes to a table, and pours something into a tiny glass. 
This he brings, and putting it to the lips of the patient, says: 
“Try and swallow this. It is a stimulant. Then lie quiet for a 
few moments; after that you may talk.” 

This is done, and fora time there is silence in the room. 
Then the wounded man whispers, with an appearance of more 
strength : “ Tell her— to come here.” 

Mrs. 'Ralston moves forward, and he looks at her long and 
attentively. Then, with a turn of his olden coolness: “You 
grew tired of me,” he said. 

“ Yes,” she replies, in a low, sad voice, “ I grew tired of you ; 
very tired. But don’t talk of those days now. You are too 
near the end ; think of that !” 

“ Ido,” he said, slowly. “But I can’t alter the past — and — 
I don’t know — about the future. I want — to see a — notary.” 

“Don’t you want to see a clergyman ?” 

“ What for? If I am dying — it’s of no use to play — hypocrite. 
I don’t believe in — your clergyman. I admit that— I wronged 
— you,” he continues, gazing at Mrs. Ralston, “and I deceived 
Miss Keith. If you two — can forgive me — I will take my 
chances — for the rest.” 

Mrs. Ralston bends above him with a face full of pity, but in 
which there is no love. “I forgive you, Edward; and so will 
Claire, fully. But you did her very little harm. She was not 
long deceived. Do you want to see her?” 

“Yes; and — don’t let Alice — Cora, you call her — come 
near me.” 


444 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


Truly, this dying sinner is not a meek one, not a very re- 
pentant one. 

When they ask him if he will see Miss Arthur, his reply is 
characteristic. “ Does she want — to see — me ?” 

No ; she has not asked to see him, they say. But of course 
she would be glad to come to him. 

“ Let her alone,” he says, “she don’t want to see me. If she 
did, it would be to scratch out — my eyes — because she is — 
cheated out of — being married. She isn’t hurt. She is too 
big a fool.” 

When Claire comes to his bedside, accompanied by Madeline, 
he says : “ Miss Claire — I loved you better than any woman I 
ever knew — truly. If — you had been Mr. Keith’s heiress — I 
would never have come to Oakley. I thought you were — his 
heiress when — I wooed you — in Baltimore. But you are the 
only woman — who ever beat me — and puzzled me. You did 
not care much, after all.” 

To Madeline he says, after he has swallowed a second stimu- 
lant: “But for you, I would not be here. You women have 
hunted me down. But you are as brave — as a lioness — a little 
Nemesis. I — won’t — bear malice.” 

At noon, the notary comes, and Edward Percy makes an 
affidavit as to the truth of the testimony that will convict Lucian 
Davlin. It is the affidavit of a fast dying man. / 

All day Mrs. Ralston sits beside him. And Clarence V aughan 
watches the slowly ebbing life tide. Once he seems struggling 
to say something, and his wife bends down to catch what may 
be some word of penitence. 

“Bury — me like a gentleman.” 

This is what he says, and Clarence Vaughan smiles bitterly 
as he thinks, “ selfish and egotistical to the last.” 


AS THE FOOJi DIETH. 


445 


Night comes on and the end is very near. Over the dying 
face flits a malignant shadow, and he makes a last effort to speak. 
Again the watchers bend nearer. 

“ I hope — they will — hang Davlin,” he breathes, feebly. 

The two listeners recoil with horror, at the sound of the vin- 
dictive wish from dying lips. 

These are the last words of Edward Percy. Slowly go the 
m inutes, and deeper grow the shadows. Again Clarence Y aughan 
bends above the couch, and then he says : “ Your vigil is ended, 
Mrs. Ralston. He is dead.” 

That night, while the house is hushed to a quiet, one portion 
of the houshold asleep, the other keeping the death-watch, Cora 
again tries to escape from Oakley. But this time Strong is not 
to be caught napping, and the vanquished adventuress resigns 
herself to her fate. 

Two days more, and then Edward Percy is buried, according 
to his request, “like a gentleman.” 

All that is known outside of Oakley concerning his death is 
that he was shot by Lucian Davlin, between whom, and him- 
self, some feud had existed. 

And John Arthur and Cora remain, and “ keep up appear- 
ances” to the last. 

Dr. Le Guise, or the Professor, has stayed too, for appearance 
sake. But the day after they have buried Edward Percy, he goes, 
and very gladly, back to the city. Madeline keeps her promise ; 
he goes free, and none save the few ever know that Dr. Le 
Guise is an impostor. 

At the same time John Arthur turns his back upon Oakley 
forever. “Appearances” are observed to the last. He goes, 
tenderly attended by the Professor, by Cora, and by his sister. 
Goes much muffled, and enacting the role of invalid. 


446 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


They are taking the sick mail South ; this is what the villagers 
think. 

But when the train reaches the city, this select party disbands. 
John Arthur becomes active once more and, with his sister, 
hurries away in the nearest cab, while the Professor and Cora 
separate by mutual consent. 

And here we will leave them — all but Cora. 

She has escaped Scylla only to fall upon Charybdis. As 
she hurries along through the familiar streets, her plans are 
laid. She will go to Lucian Davlin’s rooms; nobody will be 
there to dispute her possession for a day or two to come, and she 
has possessed herself of the keys, left behind as useless by their 
outlawed owner. 

When she ascends the steps, some one, who is lounging past 
the premises, looks at her narrowly. As she disappears be- 
hind the swinging outer door, this lounger becomes wonderfully 
alert, and hastens away as if he had just discovered his mission. 

Two hours later, as Cora descends the stairs and emerges into 
the street, the vision of a monkey-faced old man appears before 
her. And while another lays a firm detaining hand upon her 
arm, the old man, fairly dancing with glee, cries out: 

“Ah, ha! here you are, my pretty sharper!' I didn’t have 
these premises watched for nothing, did I? Xow I have got 
you ! Bring her along, officer, bring her along. She won’t 
dodge us this time.” 

And Cora is hurried into a cab, closely followed by old Ver- 
age, who chatters his doubtful consolation, and laughs his 
eeldrich laughter, and finally consigns her to prison to answer 
to a charge of swindling. 


MADELINE YAYNE. 


447 


CHAPTER L. 

“and then comes rest.” 

At last Oakley is rid of its intriguants , its plotters and im- 
postors. 

And Madeline and Claire sit alone in the chamber of the 
former, talking of the strange events that have so lately tran- 
spired — of Philip Girard’s vindication, of Lucian Davlin’s pun- 
ishment, of Edward Percy’s death. 

It is the day following that of the burial, and Mrs. Ralston is 
lying asleep in her own room, with old Hagar in near attendance. 

“ Poor Mrs. Ralston,” says Claire, after a long pause in their 
converse. “She is thoroughly worn out, and yet, weary as she 
was, she must have talked with you for hours, Madeline, after 
we came back from the grave.” 

Over Madeline’s face flits an odd, half-sad smile, as she re- 
plies, dreamily : 

“Yes, we talked a long time, dear; Mrs. Ralston was then in 
the mood for talking. Can’t you understand how one may l)e 
nervously active, may be at just that stage of bodily weariness 
when the mind is intensely alive? The excitement of all she 
had lately undergone was still upon her, and the mind could not 
resign itself to rest while anything remained unsettled or under 
a cloud.” 

“ Oh, I can understand how that may be.” Then, after a 
pause, “so something remained to be settled?” 

“Yes” 


448 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“And, between you, you disposed of the difficulty?” 

“Yes.” 

Another silence. Then Madeline turns to look at her com- 
panion. 

“Why don’t you ask me what the ‘difficulty’ was?” 

No answer. 

“ But you want to know ?” 

Claire laughs nervously. 

“And I want to tell you,” pursues Madeline. “First, we 
talked of ourselves.” 

“Oh!” ejaculates Claire, looking immensely relieved. 

“Yes, we talked of ourselves first; and we have become great 
friends.” 

“Of course!” cries Miss Enthusiasm; “I knew you would.” 

“We have decided to give our new friendship a severe test.” 

“How?” asks Claire, forgetting her caution. 

“By visiting Europe in each other’s society.” 

Claire springs up excitedly. “Madeline Payne, you don’t 
mean it ! You can’t! You shall not; there ! Europe, indeed. 
You are crazy! I won’t hear of it !” stamping her foot em- 
phatically. 

Madeline leans back in her chair and laughs; then suddenly 
becomes grave. 

“But I do mean it, Claire, my darling,” she says, softly. 
“And I’ll tell you what else I mean. Sit down here, close be- 
side me and listen.” 

Instinctively Claire obeys. 

“Now, then,” continues Madeline, “you know what an odd, 
uncultivated sort of a life mine has been, and you know that 
this little world of mine has not been a very bright one. W ell, 
ever since I could read and think, I have longed to see Italy, 


449 


“and then comes rest.” 

and France, and England, and Germany, and the Holy Land. 
My work is done here. , There is nothing now to prevent my 
’going — no duty to perform, no one to keep me here. I could 
not find a better friend and companion than Mrs. Ralston, and 
she is very anxious to go, and to take me with her. You are all 
very dear to me, but no one needs me now more than she, nor 
so much. And, Claire, don’t make any mistakes about me. I 
am not going away sorrowfully, or with any heavy weight upon 
my spirits. I am going to enjoy and make the most and best 
of the life and youth God has given me. I am going for 
change, and recreation, and rest. I have been acting the part 
of an avenger here, a stern, unforgiving Nemesis, but I would 
do over again all that I have done, if need be. I am not half 
so good as you. I can not submit with meekness to injustice 
and wrong. I shall fight my enemies, if I have more to fight, 
until the end of the chapter. And now I have a confession to 
make.” 

Claire stirs uneasily. “Don’t,” she says, depreeatingly : 
“ I don’t want to hear a confession.” 

“ But I want to make one, and you must listen. First, how- 
ever, let me tell you that during my talk with Mrs. Ralston, 3 
I heard about ? certain interview, wherein a ridiculous young lady 
discarded the man she loved, because she fancied she would 
wrong some one else if she admitted her love for him, and ac- 
cepted his. Well — don’t turn your face away — that was fool- 
ish. But my blunder was a downright wicked one. Yes, Claire, 
I will tell all the truth. When you and I stood together out 
under the trees, and talked of Clarence Vaughan; when you 
showed me the picture and told me the little pastoral about Ed- 
ward Percy; I knew that Clarence Vaughan lbved you — and I 
thought I loved, nay, I did love, him. 

29 


450 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


“ When I came down here and found so soon that Edward 
Percy was — so utterly unworthy, we will say, because he is dead, 
I felt at once that you must be undeceived. 

“Then a great temptation came to me, and I said to myself, 
‘When she becomes disenchanted, and ceases to love this man, 
she will learn to value the other and more noble lover; she will 
learn to love him !’ 

“All night long, before I came to undeceive you, and to warn 
Olive, I battled with a great temptation. And I yielded to it. 
Listen, Claire, while I tell you how base I was. 

“When I set out for the city in the morning, I said to myself: 
‘Claire Keith is the soul of truth and honor. She is generous 
to a fault. If I let her see how much I care for Clarence 
Vaughan, I shall appeal to her pity and lief honor, without the 
aid of words. She will never listen to his suit; she will try to 
advance my interest; she will become my all y.’ See, dear, how 
truly I judged you. 

“Well, I came. I told you of Percy’s baseness, and 
when I saw how brave you were; how full of scorn 
for the dishonest man; how impossible it was for one so 
unworthy to drag you down, or darken your life because of 
his baseness; I was filled with shame and remorse. I knew 
then that I was unworthy your friendship, or of a good 
man’s love. 

“Standing in your presence, humiliated by your pure nobility, 
I repented, and I resolved to give up all thought of Clarence 
Vaughan. I did give him up. 

“But, Claire, although I did not know it, my very penitence 
must have committed me, and while I was renouncing my de- 
signs, you were resolving to further them. In some manner I 
must have betrayed myself.” 


AND THEN COMES REST.' 


451 


(( 

There is a moment’s pause. Claire Keith’s face is buried in 
her hands, and Madeline, bending toward her, cries out, re- 
morsefully : 

“ Claire! Claire! Look up and believe me. As God hears 
me, that is past and dead. See how I am humbling myself, and 
do not doubt me.” 

Claire’s head rears itself suddenly. She flings herself forward 
impetuously, and clasps her arms about her friend. 

“ Madeline, stop!” she cries, brokenly; “I won’t hear you 
slander yourself. Don’t I know you too well to doubt you! 
But I won’t have a lover; I won’t love any one but you.” 

Again the laugh comes to Madeline’s lips. 

“ Little Miss Impulse!” she says, tenderly. “But, sister 
Claire, I am not done yet. I am going to put you on the peni- 
tent’s stool now. Just imagine yourself in my place for a little. 
Do you think I could have made this confession to you if my 
weakness were not a thing of the past? You know I never 
could. I am not ashamed to confess that I did love Clarence. 
But I should be more than ashamed, under all the circumstances, 
if I could not say with truth that that love is a thing of the past. 
As my dearest friend, my brother, if you will, I shall always 
love him; but no more than that. I am not sorry that I have 
loved him, for I am a better woman because of it. But, I re- 
peat it, that love is a thing of the past. Claire, do you not 
believe?” 

They gaze into each other’s eyes for a moment. Then Claire 
says: “I believe, Madeline.” 

A smile brightens the brown eyes now, and their owner says:; 
“ Then don’t you see that you have made a mistake — one that, 
for my sake, you must rectify ?” 

Claire begins to look rebellious. “No, I don’t,” she criea. 


452 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


blushing scarlet. “You wicked girl, you have been getting me 
into a trap!” 

Madeline says, very gravely : 

“ Claire, I want you to trust me in this, as you all have in 
other things. I want you to let me feel that I have not made 
the friends I love best, unhappy. I shall leave you soon : if I 
have been your friend, let me have my way in this one thing. 
If you don’t, all the rest will have been in vain. See, my drama 
is ended; my enemies are punished. Now let me make my dear 
ones happy. Do you know, John Arthur has put a new thought 
in my head. ‘Confound you,’ he growled; it was his parting 
benediction, ‘ I might have known your father’s blood ruled you. 
I might have looked for cunning and intrigue from that con- 
founded Expert’s Daughter.’ It is true, Claire; I am the 
daughter of an Expert, a detective, brave and shrewd. Hagar 
says that I am like my father, and that I have inherited his 
talents. When I recall the knot we have just unravelled, the 
war we have just waged, I can but think that my father’s chosen 
calling may have become mine. If the world ever grows stale, 
if I pine for change or excitement or absorbing occupation, I 
can goto my father’s chief and say, ‘I am the daughter of Lionel 
Payne, the Expert, and I have inherited a measure of my father’s 
'talents.’ Do you think he will trust his knotty cases to the 
Expert’s Daughter?” 

“ I think he will, if he is wise. But, Madeline, all this is folly. 
You will never leave us. Olive wants you; we all want 
you.” 

“And you will all have enough of me. But, Claire, do not 
ask me to stay now. It is better for me, better for all, that I 
go away. I must let old memories die out. I want to forget 
old scenes. I want rest. I need to school my wayward nature, 


453 


“AND THEN COMES PEST.” 

to teach my heart to beat calmly, my soul to possess itself in 
peace. Claire, I must go.” 

Just here, some one taps softly. It is a servant who holds in* 
her hands a telegram from Olive to Madeline, which runs thus: 

All is -well. Philip and I start for home to-night. Meet us there with- 
out fail, all of you. Olive. 

They read it together, and then Claire burst into tears — tears 
of joy and thankfulness. 

“ Philip is free once more! Oh, Madeline, Madeline; and it 
was you who saved him ; it was you!” 

Madeline pushes the message into her hand, saying: “ If I 
have done such wonderful things, why do you refuse to obey 
me? Go, now, and take this good news to Clarence Vaughan. 
And mind you, don't come back, for I am going to tell Mrs. 
Ralston.” 

Half laughing, half trying, Claire is compelled to go down 
to the library alone. Clarence V aughan is there, pacing thought- 
fully up and down. 

Claire enters softly, the paper ostentatiously displayed in her 
hand. But he looks straight at the blushing, bashful, tear- 
stained face. Her eyes, half glad, half shy, wholly tell-tale, fall 
before his own. And the lover who has waited in patience 
for his opportunity, seizes it now and makes it a moment of 
victory. 

“ I have brought you good news, Hr. Vaughan.” 

He comes straight toward her, and imprisons both little hands, 
together with the “ news” they contain. 

“You have brought me yourself, then, and I have been lying 
in wait for this opportunity. Claire, shall you ever run away 
from me again?” 


454 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


It is useless to rebel. His voice tells her that he knows too 
nmch ; and that he will not be evaded any more. 

She gives him one glimpse of her face, and then she is clasped 
in his strong, loving arms, and from this safe haven, after a 
time, she tells her good news, struggling prettily to free her- 
self from the loving imprisonment. 

“ Philip is free, and is coming home.” 

“ Of course ; why not, darling ? There is no accusation against 
him now.” 

“ Madeline is going away with Mrs. Ralston. Don’t you 
think she is too bad? Can’t we make her stay?” 

A look of regretful sadness rests for a moment upon his 
countenance. Then he says, very tenderly : 

“My little darling, Madeline has earned the right to her own 
perfect liberty. After the fierce schooling through which she 
has passed, believe me, there is nothing left for us to teach her. 
She has grown beyond us. Let her have her will, for she knows 
best what will give her the rest, the forgetfulness, the absorbing 
interest in other things, that her strong nature needs. Madeline 
has much to unlearn, much to forget; and she knows this. She 
is growing to understand her strong, brave self, to value her 
strength. She will never be an idler, never sink into the ranks 
of the commonplace. If, after a time, she finds for herself a 
worthy love, she will be the teiiderest, the truest of wives. 
But she is sufficient unto herself. She has beauty, genius, force, 
a strong will, a splendid intellect. We shall watch her course 
from afar, and I am much mistaken if we do not, some day, hear 
great things of our Madeline.” 

Claire draws herself gently from the restraining arm, and 
turns her blue eyes upon him. 

“Madeline will never marry,” she says softly, sadly. “You 



“She sinks to her knees, and leaning out, absorbs the restfulness, the 
peace, the white, pure glojy of the dawn, '—page 456 , 


456 



456 


MADELINE PAYNE. 


are right; she is above us, beyond us. God has made her 
sufficient unto herself.” 

It is dawn, gray dawn. 

Madeline Payne rises from a long untroubled sleep, and flings 
wide her shutters. 

What is this that she sees? 

All below her an unbroken mantle of white; all about and 
above, the waving of snowy plumes, and floating, misty-white* 
loveliness. 

The world is clothed in a new garment ; the foot-prints of 
her enemies are hidden, are blotted from the face of the earth. 
The pathway to the cemetery where they lately bore Edward 
Percy, is obliterated, too. The grave of the erring man is 
covered with heaven’s whitest, purest mantle of charity and for- 
getfulness. 

Above, below, all about her, is silence and whiteness and peace. 

She sinks to her knees, and leaning out, absorbs into herself 
the restfulness, the p‘eace, the white, pure glory, of the dawn. 

“It is a token,” she murmurs, softly. “ It is God’s benedic- 
tion on my new day, on i^y new life. It is the beginning of 
rest. There is nothing old in this fresh, white world. Let the 
snow mantle rest thus upon my past life. Ah, how rich I am ! 
How rich in friends; how strong in that T have been able to do 
some good, to make my beloved happy. Never let me repine 
at my fate. I am rich, and strong, and free. This new, white, 
beautiful world is mine, when I wish to wander. My friends 
are mine, when I wish to rest, and find a home.” 

Ah, ’tis good to know — 

“God’s greatness shines around our incompleteness ; 

Hound our restlessness, His rest. ” 


457 


“AND then gomes rest.” 

Up from the east shoots an arrow of gold, and a bar of 
roseate light. Higher yet, and the world is aglow with mystic, 
glittering loveliness. Diamonds sparkling everywhere ; snow • 
plumes waving ; the earth’s white unbroken mantle gleaming 
and sparkling, and stretching away to meet the golden glow at 
the horizon’s edge. 

Kneeling there, with her white hands clasped upon the win- 
dow ledge, the glory of the morning falls over her like a bene-, 
diction ; lighting up the golden hair ; pouring its radiance into 
the solemn brown eyes ; kissing the pure pale cheeks ; breathing 
peace, and rest, and hope into the long-tried, but conquering 
heart of The Expert’s Daughter. 

THE END. 


♦ 



jEgTTlie eDtire following Catalogue of Thomes’ and Lyncii’s books, which 
we have heretofore sold at $1.50 each, will be issued from month to 

month in The Detective and Adventure Library 9 at 25 CENTS 
each. 

POPULAR BOOKS. 


A Mountain Mystery; or, The Outlaws of the Rockies* 

By Lawrence L. Lynch, Illustrated by 37 original Engravings. Price, $1.50. 

A stirring story of detectives’ adventures among the mountain outlaws and stag* 
robbers of the Far West, Our old friends Stanhope and Vernet, re-appear In new roles. 

Dangerous Ground; or. The Rival Detectives. 

By Lawrence L. Lynch, Illustrated by 45 original Engravings. Price, $1.50. 

Its incidents are splendidly handled. There is not a dull page or li(W in it. Dick 
Stanhope is a character to be admired for his courage; while one’s deepest sympathies 
twine about the noble, tender-hearted Leslie Warburton. 

Madeline Pay tie, the Detective’s Daughter . 

By Lawrence L. Lynch. Illustrated by 44 original Engravings. Price, $1.50. 

“One of the most fascinating of modern novels. It combines the • xcitement that 
ever attends the intricate and hazardous schemes of a det ciive, together with as cun- 
ningly elaborated a plot as the best of Wilkie Collins’ or Char.es xteade’s." 

Out of a Labyrinth. 

By Lawrence L. Lynch. Illustrated by 86 original Engravings. Price $1.50. 

“We have so often spoken of Mr. Lynch’s superb abilities that further praise Is 
scarcely essential. Suffice it to say that this work is in no way inferior to those which 
have preceded it ." — Aurora Hews. 

The Gold Hunters’ Adventures in Australia . 

By Wm. H. Thomes. Illuctrnted by 41 fine Engravings. Price. $1.50. 

An exciting story of adventures in Australia, in the early days, wnenthe discovery o i 
gold drew thither a motley crowd of reckless daring men. 

The Bushrangers; or, M i d Life in Australia . 

By Wm. H. Thomes. Illustrated. Price, si. 50. 

The record of a second voyage to that 1 -nd of mystery and adventure — Australia — by 
the “Gold Hunters," and re lete with exciting exploits among lawie&s meu. 

The Gold Hunters in Europe; or, The Dead Alive • 

By Wm. H Thomes. Illustrated by 34 fine Engravings Price, $1.R0. 

The heroes of “Th Gold Hunt' rs’ Adventures’’ seek excitement in a trip through 
Europe, and meet with a constant succession of perilous adventures. 

A Slaver’s Adventures on Sea and Land. 

By Wm H. TnoMES Illustrated by 40 fine Engravings. Price, $1.50. 

A drilling story of an exciting life on board a slaver, chased by British gunboats, and 
equally interesting adventures in t..e wilds of Africa and on the island of Cuba. 

A Whaleman’s Adventures on Sea and Land. 

By Wm. H. Thomes. Illustrated by 36 fine Engravings. Price. $1 50. 

A vivid story of life on a whaler, in the Pacific Ocean, and of adventures In the Band 
wlch Islands, and In California in the earlier days. 

Running the Blockade. 

By Wm. E Thomes. Profusely illustrated. 

A tale of adventures on a Blockade liunner during the rebellion, by a Union rdtiMm 

acting In the Secret Service of the United States, 



The author’s latest and greatest work; Intensely interesting. 45 Elegant Illustrat/ >na 

Price $1.50. 

Sold on all Railroad Trains and by ail Booksellers. 


A NEW DETECTIVE STORY. 

By LAWRENCE L. LYNCH. 

Author of “Shadowed by Three,” “Madeline Payne,” etc. 



THE GOLD HUNTERS 5 ADVENTURE 

OR, WILD LIFE IN AUSTRALIA. 

By WM. H. THOMES, author of “The Bushrangers,” “The Gold Hunters in Europe/ 
“A Whaleman’s Adventures,” “Life in the East Indies,” “Adventures on a 
Slaver,” “Running the Blockade,” etc., etc. 


•Now for a rush.— Cut them to piece?!” 

A FASC1N AT!NG_§TORY OF ADVENT*>»»^ 


A SLAYER’S ADVENTURES 



ON SEA AND LAND. 


“We saw many species of wild animals.” Page 89. 


By WM. H. THOMES, 

Author of “The Hunters’ Adventures in Australia,” “The Bushrangers,” 

“Running the Blockade,” etc., etc. 


I ILLUSTRATED WITH FORTY ELEGANT ENGRAVINGS 


jjOLP ON ALL RAILWAY TRAINS AND BY AIL BOOKSELLER 0 



A whaiemans Adventures 

AT SEA, IN THE SANDWICH ISLANDS AND CALIFORNIA. 


Author of “ The Gold Hunters’ Adventures in Australia,” •• The Bushrangers" 
“ Running the Blockade,” etc., etc. 


XlliutrAted. with Thirty-Six Fine 


30JJ) ON ALL RAILWAY TRAINS AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS, 



THE BUSHRANGERS: 

Or a Yankee's Adventures During a 
Second Trip to Australia. 

BY W. H. TKOMES, 

AUTHOR OF “THE GOLD HUNTER* S AD VENTURIS 0 
AUSTRALIA,” ETC., ETC. 


CONTENTS. 

The Yankee and his Quartz Crusher, a Start for Australia.— We arrive ak 
Melbourne, and meet old Friends — The aiolen Diamonds. The lovely Bar- 
maid and her Father.— The Frize- fighter and his Daughter. The Row. The 
Signal.— Mrs. Trotter’s Castle.— The Exploration. The Quarrel and the Mur- 
der.— The lost Diamonds recovered. The Escape. The sudden Alarm. The 
unpleasant Position. Hez plays the “Injun.” The Pet and his strong Arm. 
—An Escape from the Pet. The Pursuit. The Jolly Sailors. The Arrest and 
Discharge.— Hez and his Feelings. The fat Porter and the Page. The Gov- 
ernor’s Wife.— The Governor and his Wife, a strong Pull for a Commission. 
—The Red Lion. Miss Jenuy and her Temper. Her Warnings. Arrival 
of the Pet.— The Red Lion. A desperate Struggle.— The Rescue. The Accusa- 
tion of Miss Jenny. The Despatch — The first Huut for Bushrangers. Web- 
ber and bis Family. The Sleeping Tramp.— A suspicious Sleeper. The Meet- 
ing lu the Bush.— Webber and his Guest. The Pursuit. The Escape. The 
stolen Horses.— Lost in the Woods. My Horse’s Death. Night and Mosquito* 
An unwelcome Bedfellow.— A Mght on the Mountain. A strange Meeting. 
The Cave.— The unexpected Arrival. The Concealment. In a tight Place.— 
Face to Face. The Struggle. The Compact. The Surprise. “Death to the 
8py.” Mother Brown and her Friendship. The Disguise. An Attempt to 
escape.— An old Acquaintance. The Pursuit. Bushrangers and their Con- 
sciences.— A poor Snot. A freed Fugitive. An old Friend. The Kiss of 
Welcome.— An Australian Farmer’s Experience. His Wife and Family. 
Bushrangers in Pursuit. Barricaded.— A Skirmish with the Bushrangers. 
Our Defense. Attempt to burn the House.— Arrival of Murden and his Men. 
Great Joy of Hopeful. The Fire subdued. Change of Mind.— Dead Bush- 
rangers. Hopeful and Amelia. A Warning. Old Love forgotten.— A Co- 
quette at Work. A Jealous Lover. An attempted Murder. An Alarm.— 
Moloch in a Fit. His Disappearance. A close Shot. Preparations for a 
Tramp.— An Expedition. Crossing the Valley by Night. A Confession. 
Point Lookout. The Sentinels.— An Attempt to extort a Confession. The 
Perils of Traveling in Australia. A Surprise.— The Robber’s Death. Bush- 
ranger’s surprised. The Attack and Flight. Murden *s Alarm. — Rescue of an 
English Baronet. His Adventures. A strange Sight. — Mother Brown’s 
Mystery. A Search for Gold. A terrible Surprise.— A Visit from Keeler. 
He is urgent for our Company. Doings at Point Lookout.— An unexpected 
Visitor, but a pleasant One. The Treasure. A great Surprise.— Miss Jenny 
and her Position. As handsome and vulgar as ever.— A Coquette’s Contempt, 
The disappearance. Amelia and Moloch.— The Abduction. A Native on the 
Trail. The Pursuit.— The Pursuit. Bridge of Salt. Mysterious Sounds. Alli- 
gators and their Attacks. An Escape. — Perilous Position. Escape from 
Alligators. On Foot. A Western Man in Australia, He Joins us.— A tedious 
Tramp. An unexpected Enemy. A strange Sight. Serpents in Pursuit. A 
Fight.— Moloch and his Victim. He explains Matters. Negotiations. Fail- 
ure. We raise the Siege.— Gloojny Prospect. A bright Light. Friends or 
Foes?— On the Trail. ' A Young Girl’s Distress. A Ruffian’s Threats. For- 
ward to the Rescue. On the Mountain. Amelia's Grief. 8he demands 
Vengeance. Preparations for Hanging.— The Hanging. An Interruption. 
The Tables turned. Escape of Amelia. A Tableau.— An unexpected Tumble. 
The Rescue. A private Conversation. A tiresome Ride. Arrival at the Sta- 
tion. Departure for Melbourne.— A Row at ths Red Llou. A Baronet la 
Danger. To the Rescue. The Pet knocked out of Time. Ten Minutes in Jail. 
A belligerent Cabman. A Fight and Knock-down.— Mother Brown’s Pardon. 
Her Confession. My astonishment. The Baronet’s Confession. A Compar- 
ing of Notea. The lost Child. A Tableau.— Explanations. Mother Brown and 
Tom. An Interview with the Baronet. Mother Brown’s Confession. Ths 
stolen Child. The Locks of Hair. Preparations for an Arrest. The Pet on 
the Watch. Bad News.— A sudden Disappearance, The Pursuit— The Hunt 
for the Baronet’s Daughter. A Midnight Adventure.— Meeting of an old 
Friend. A disagreeable Surprise. A Council of War. In Pursuit. A 8ur- 

§ rlse. A Blow on the Head. The Conference. A Prisoner. A few Remarks 
y Miss Jenny. Her Vlstl and Assistance.— A momentous Question.— A terri- 
ble Struggle.— The Haunted Station. No One at Home. Perseverance of S 
Bine Man. la Sight.— An Important Capture. The Pet’s Regret*. Jenny 
and Mad Dick.— Mad Dick make* Proposals. A scornful Rejection. Violence, 
To the Rescue. An agreeable Surprise. Father and Daughter. Ths PeS*l 
Regrets.— A little Love. A few Explanations, and a Tableau.-A Life for a 
Life.— A private Conference. A plain Talk. A Stem Refusal. On the Tram* 
▲ wonderful Lake. A warm Reception.— A wonderful Lake. Ths Quarts 
▲ Separation.— General Event* Hasty Wedding* Goode* mm* 



The Gold Hunters in Europe 


THE DEAD ALIVE. 


ZUuatr«ted with FORTY Fine Fngravinte 


tov/LD ON ALL RAILWAY TRAINS AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS. 


“ Do you give yourselves in custody ? ” 

By WM. IX. THOMBS, 

Author of “ Thb Gold Hunters' Advkntubbs in Australia,” “Thb Bushbaxobb*," 
“Run nino thb Blockadk,” etc., etc. 


CATALOGUE. 


No, 1, Jan. 1, 1889, Now Ready. Price, 25 cents. 
Whaleman’s Adventures on Sea and Land. i2mo, 444 
I pages, 36 full-page Illustrations. By Wm. H. Thomes. 

ivid story of life on a whaler in the Pacific Ocean, and of adventures in the 
andwich Islands, and in California in the early days, when the discovery of 
)ld electrified the whole world, and attracted bold men to wrest the mines 
f wealth from the possession of Mexicans and Indians. 

No. 2, Feb. 1, Now Ready. Price, 25 cents. 
t Gold Hunters in Australia. i2mo, 564 pages, 41 full 
|page Illustrations. By Wm. H. Thomes 

exciting story of adventures in Australia at the time when the discovery of 
)ld drew thither a motley crowd of reckless, daring men. It is written 
ith a graphicness that makes the reader an actual participant in the stirring 
enes depicted. 

No. 3, March 1, Now Ready. Price, 25 cents. . 
deline Payne, the Detective’s Daughter. i2mo, 456 pages, 
45 full-page Illustrations. By Lawrence L. Lynch. 

very interesting and exciting story. It abounds in incidents and surprises.” 
fhe Chicago Inter-Ocean. “The story is spirited, full of action, and char- 
ters of much finer cast than common, while the language is chaste, effect- 
e, and exceedingly picturesque.” — The Detroit Free Press. 

No. 4, Ready April 1. Price, 25 cents, 
e Bushrangers : A Yankee’s Adventures during a Second 
Trip to Australia. i2mo, 480 pages. Profusely illustrated. 

[record of a second voyage to that land of mystery and adventures — 
ustralia — and replete with equally exciting exploits among the most lawless 
ass of men. A Sequel to “ The Gold Hunters’ Adventures.” 


Wm. H. Thomes’ Tales of Adventure on Land and Sea 

iprise: “ A Whaleman’s Adventures ,” ‘ ‘ The Gold Hunters in Australia ,” 
\VThe Bushrangers’’ “ Running the Blockade,” “ A Slaver’s Adventures,” 
l ‘ The Gold Hunters in Europe,” “ Life in the East Indies.” 

the graphic and stirring writings of Mr. Thomes are familiar to the trade as accepted staples 
jie domain of fiction. Their popularity was at once so marked as to bring forth numerous 
;ltors, but no rivals, and to-day tlieii pre-eminence remains unimpaired. 

< Lawrence L. Lynch’s Famous Detective Stories 

Qprise : “ Madeline Payne, the Detective’s Daughter,” “Dangerous Ground; 
or, The Rival Detectives,” “A Mountain Mystery; or. The Outlaws of the 
Rockies,” “ Out of a Labyrinth.” 

'these fascinating volumes are powerful novels, with the ever attractive detective element as 
indation, and as different from the ordinary so-called detective stories as can well be imag* 
| The Hearth and Hall says: “Such literature has its place in the world, and possesses the 
ed strength to maintain that place.” The Boston Globe: “The popularity of detective stories 
inues unabated. The public cling to them with a fondness that will bear no hint of parting.” 
Aurora Post: “They are good books of the class, and intensely interesting.” The Daily 
b: “Mr. Lynch is a pleasing and forcible wrtter, and has a most happy manner of relating the 
adventures encountered during his long experience in the secret service.” 



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